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of the heart, when public eminence is harmoniously blended with private worth, when a spirit of picty elevaies the sentiments, and mingles its influence with the actions of life, and a polish and interest are given to the picture by taste, hospitality, refinement of manners, and the whole train of social virtues ? When old age is encircled and exalted by attributes like these, it is of all earthly objects the most venerable aid impressive. Freed from the clouds and wild misrule of the passions, and gilded by the calm sunshine of reacor, virtue and piety, it seems to stand on middle ground, and to partake of a middle nature, between human and divine. No wonder, then, that a rude barbaTian soldiery mistook the Roman senate for an assembly of gods! And no wonder that to individuals standing on the verge of a protracted and exemplary life, superstition has oftentimes attributed powers and privileges of a supernatural order_powers and privileges of no less amount than that of penetrating through the curtain of time, and receiving an antepast of the enjoyments of another world !
Into this train of reflection I have been insensibly led by a retrospect of the character of himn who is to constitute the subject of the present memoir. For, though I will not say that the closing years of his life furnished a perfect example of hallowed old age, such as I have endeavoured to represent it, yet, those who knew him best, are best able to judge, how difficult it would be to find an example more perfect.
Benjamin Chew was a native of Maryland, a state celebrated in no ordinary degree, for giving birth to characters of eminence and worth. His father, Samuel Chew, was a practitioner of medicine. Though desorvedly ranked at the liezl of his profession, he was not more esteemed for his talents, learning, and skill, than he was beloved for the benevolence of his disposition, the affibility of his manners, the disinterestedriess of his affections, and the charities of his heart. But his mind active, erudite and enterprizing, was not formed for an exclusive devotion to medical pursuits. Besides being extensively read in theology and history, he had a profound knowledge of the science of law, more particularly of the laws of his country, and of the British Constitutiot Artzininents so various and important as the
still heightened in their lustre by a spotless integrity of character, while they conciliated private friendship and esteem, could not fail to attract public notice and consideration. Doctor Chew was accordingly appointed to the office of chief justice of Newcastle, Kent, and Sussex, counties which were subsequently erected into the state of Delaware. Thus elevated by his merit to a conspicuous and honourable station, he bore no inconsiderable part in many of the public transactions of the day. Having passed a life of patriotism, virtue, and distinguished usefulness, he died on the 16th day of June, 1744, leaving behind him three sons and three daughters.
His son, Benjamin, the much lamented subject of the present memoir, was born on the 29th day of November (old style) 1722. Of the events of his childhood we know but little, and that little is too much obscured by the mists of time to be worthy of recital. For such was the protracted span of his life, that long before its close, there lived not a single companion of his youth, to tell the story of his early years. All we can state with certainty is, that he received the best education the schools of the country, were at that time calculated to afford. And from the accuracy and excellence of his clasical scholarship, there is no reason to doubt, that his assiduity was exemplary and his progress honourable.
The flattering promise which young Chew exhibited on the close of his academical career, designated him as a youth amply qualified to acquire distinction in one of the learned professions. For in addition to talents of an elevated order, and stock of acquired knowled e unusual for his years, he possessed a dignity of sentiment, and an emulation of spirit, which, while they pointed to eminence, raised his attention far above the level of common pursuits. He felt, and, had his native modesty permitted, would even have been privileged to glory in the consciousness, that, capable as he was of superior usefulness in society, he had Nature's warrant to aim at a superior standing. Conforniably to these proud but highly laudable views and sentiments, the law became the profession of his choice. For on glancing over the various walks of civil society, he discovered
the law to be the most certain and direct path to distinction and influence,
On the study of this profession he entered with his usual industry and ardour, under the direction and auspices of Andrew Hamilton, Esq. of Philadelphia, one of the most eminent characters at the American bar. And such was the effect of his unwearicd application, engaging manners, and propricty of deportment, that the able preceptor was soon converted into the intimate companion and the generous friend. In conscquence of his splendid talents and commanding popularity, Mr. Ilamilton was pressed with an unwieldy load of professional business. But in a short time it was his good fortune to have this load not a little lightened by the aid he received from his favourite pupil. For I am authorized to assert that he frequently confided to Mr. Chew, while yet a student, the investigation and arrangement of cases both intricate in their nature and important in their object-cases, in the issue of which his own interest and reputation were essentially concerned. If my information be correct (and considering the source from whience it is derived there is no cause to doubt it) there has seldom existed between a preceptor and a pupil an intercourse more friendly, a confidence more unlimited, or a reciprocity of services more conspicuously useful. It will not be deemed an unwarrantable digression to remark, that the confidence with which a pupil inspires his preceptor, and the satisfaction he affords him in the discharge of the offices and duties entrusted to his care, may be, and generally are, regarded as an carnest of the attention and fidelity with which he will acquit himself of his subsequent duties and offices in life. Did this truth stand in need of illustration or proof, it might well receive it from the fair example now under consideration.
But the relationship and intercourse between Mr. Hamilton and Mr. Chew were doomed to be as short-lived as they were pleasing and honourable. For before the latter had completed the term of his pupilage, the former had filled up the measure of his days. Yet even that event, melancholy and niournful as it was, afforded decisive evidence of the strength and immutability of their attachment and regard, Mr: Chew felt and mani.
fested the affliction of a son at the death of his preceptor, while Mr. Hamilton employed some of his last accents in expressions of esteem and paternal affection for his youthful friend.
From the pressure of this heavy and unlooked for loss in friendship, connected with an application to business and to study too unremitting and too severe for the strength of his constitution, Mr. Chew soon began to suffer materially in his health. For the re-establishment of this he was advised to change his climate and habits, by making a voyage to a foreign country. With this advice he readily complied, determining at the same time, to render his visit abroad subservient to the completion of his education in the science of law. He accordjpgly sct sail for England in the autumn of 1743, and soon after his arrival in London, entered himself of the middle Temple.
To a mind ardent and aspiring as his, this could not fail to be an arrangement fraught with the highest degree of interest and delight. For he was now in a situation to which his ambition and his love of knowledge had long taught him to look with the proudest anticipation. In relation to sources of knowledge, all he had hitherto desired and fancied, appeared to be now realized. With regard to the cultivation of professional science in particular, he found himself in the midst of advantages equal to the utmost his imagination could conceive. From the fatigues of ransacking libraries rich in the experience, learning, and wisdom of ages, he could now turn and receive at once instruction and delight from the pleadings of counsellors the most eloquent, and the decisions of judges the most enlightened and profound, the world could at that time produce. Even his common recreations and amusements could be rendered tributary to the object of his ambition--I mean his advancement in the knowledge of law.
Nor did it comport with his inextinguishable and praiseworthy thirst after eminence in his profession, to suffer these opportunities to pass unimproved. On the other hand, with such assiduity did he cultivate them, and with such effect did he treasure up the information they were calculated to impart, as to acquire, in a short time, the most flattering distinction among his associates in science. He was regarded as a young American whose
talents, acquirements, and exemplary deportment were alike honourable to himself and to his native country. The proudest and most prejudiced of the European philosophers could have derived from his character and standing no evidence (nor even any supposed evidence) of the deterioration of man in the western hemisphere. They must have been forced to acknowledge, however reluctantly, that in all the higher attributes of our nature, he was fully equal to their own countrymen; and, what, no doubt, appeared still more extraordinary to thein and more humiliating to their self-conceit, lict inferior even to themselves.
During his residence abroad, Mr. Chew had the good fortune to become kuown to, and to contract intimacies with, some of the most distinguished characters of the day; characters who both then and subsequently acted a very conspicuous part in the affairs of Europc. These intimacies continued to be afterwards fostered and kept alive by such an uninterrupted series of letters, kird offices, and courteous civilities, as can be reciprocated only by iiberal and clevated minds. But of all his European intimacies and friendships, those contracted with the Penns, the proprietary family of Pennsylvania, proved to himself the most honourable and useful. Theywere honourable to hiin, because they furnished cvidence of the high confidence and esteem his manners and character were calculated to inspire; and they were useful, because they became instrumental in his future promotions, by procuring for him several office and appointments of profit and trust.
Before the expiration of the term which Mr. Chew had contemplated spending in his studies and travels abroad, he was prematurely recalled to his native country by the melancholy occurrence of the death of his father. In this event he expericnced a double loss--a deep wound in his filial affections, and a check to the pleasing and highly profitable career of improvement he had promised himself from a longer residence in Europe. But he submitted with resignation and fortitude to the stroke, and instead of repining at what he could not remedy, thought only of turning to the best account the attainments of which lic was already possessed. In this he manifested a resolu