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was heard, at the door, and in a moment Mr. Messer' stood before them. He very courteously advised the students to repair to their several apartments. They did so. Early the next morning a meeting was called by a leading member of the class, to take into consideration "the state of the class." One contended, that all would be called up, for having liquor in the room; and that many would certainly receive the punishment of expulsion. What was to be done? The classmate alluded to, advised that all as one man, should boldly deny that any liquor was in the room. He was a resolute fellow, and born to command. Every member agreed to his proposition, except Burges. He said emphatically "No;" observing, "that it was not probable they would be called up for a merry meeting the first night; but if they were, they must excuse themselves on the ground that it was the first night: for their denial would not satisfy the tutor, against his own eyes." This was deemed a capital expedient, and was adopted in preference to that first proposed. They were not "called up," however, for the merry meeting.

By rigid economy, his funds held out, until the last year of his collegiate life. It was the common usage at that period, for the graduating class to pay not only the Commencement expenses, but many others incidental to them. In February, 1796, five or six members of the class handed about a subscription paper, whereby the several "parts" were to be taxed at a stated rate, to defray the expenses of Commencement. The individual to whom the valedictory address should be assigned was to pay the sum of one hundred dollars; the salutatory, eighty dollars. The class knew that Burges was unwilling to be considered as a candidate for the first part; and that if he did not subscribe the paper, it would be announcing himself a candidate. They also knew his limited pecuniary resources. He told them it was unjust; but, nevertheless he would sign, because he was confident he should not be obliged to pay. The next month the parts were distributed, and to him was assigned an oration,

1 This gentleman was afterwards President of the University, and held the office with honor for a period of eighteen years.


with the valedictory addresses. The sum of one hundred dollars, nearly one half the expenses of Commencement, according to the subscription, must be advanced. It was a heavy penalty for the honor conferred. The majority of the class however, offered to share the expense with him; but he declined accepting their generosity, and paid the whole himself. After the examination in July, he left college. At the close of the year in September, in addition to the above sum, his other bills amounted to one hundred and twenty-five dollars. All his little patrimony had been consumed. His eldest brother would gladly have loaned him the money, but he had it not. At first the student thought it might be borrowed of some of his father's old friends. But as he called on one after another, and depicted to them in an honest and simple relation his necessities, offering his brother as security for payment, each excused himself by saying, that the last dollar had just been loaned; but neighbor such a one had money to let. Neighbor such a one could not be found.

In this anxious state of mind, weeks passed away, and yet no relief came. After deliberate reflection, he resolved to return to Providence, when the class met, ten days before Commencement, take a dismission from college, open a school in that town, and sedulously labor until all these debts were paid. This determination for a season seemed to relieve his solicitude and perplexity. But for a fortunate and providential event, the contemplated enterprize would have been prosecuted.


Two or three days before leaving his mother's dwelling for Rhode-Island, Burges accidentally met a man, who, although he bore the reputation of a miser, yet he was a kind-hearted old He had not seen him since the death of his father, and the old gentleman greeted him with a truly sympathetic feeling. In the course of conversation he approved his plan of selling all to buy knowledge. The student observed that it promised to cost more than he was worth: and in reply to the earnest enterrogatory of the old gentleman, "how ?" he explained the condition of his purse. The former said, "I am very sorry, for I had more money than that, a few days ago; but most unfortu

nately for you it is loaned. But, Tristam," continued he, "I can raise it for you, if you will pay me a little something for my trouble." At what rate, inquired the applicant? "Oh, six per cent; I take no more."-His reputation was that of twelve. "In truth and candor, my young friend," said he, "It will cost me four or five dollars to collect the two hundred and fifty; and if you will pay me that, I will raise the money and send it to you, as soon as you desire, and take your note without your brother's name." But to this last proposition Burges would not accede, as his brother was willing to endorse the note, and fully able to pay it.

This was one of the most interesting events of Mr. Burges's early life. It seemed to him a sad decree of fortune, to be obliged to leave college, and to decline the honors of Commencement; especially as the oration and addresses were prepared for that occasion. The distress of mind which he had endured for weeks, was inexpressibly severe. But from fear and disquietude he was relieved in a moment, by this kind-hearted old man.

As before intimated, he returned to college, and graduated in September, 1796. The subject of his oration was, "The Cause of Man." At that day, this oration was justly considered as a remarkable production. The paragraph commencing, “Guided by reason, man has travelled through the abstruse regions of the philosophic world;" and that succeeding it, "By imagination, man seems to verge towards creative power," are beautifully constructed. They have been selected as exercises for declamation, in many schools and colleges. Its style was so smooth and flowing, and the manner in which it was delivered was so interesting, that it gained for him great applause. His course at the University was marked by continued application, and a desire to excel in every department. In the belles lettres studies, he was a fine scholar. It was the custom at that period for the students to declaim in the college chapel every evening, after the devotional exercises. Whenever he spoke, his classmates anticipated pleasure, and they were not disappointed. At that early period he was distinguished for his attainments in oratory. And when on the stage at Commencement, he appeared to so much advantage, his friends were grateful that

he had surmounted numerous obstacles, and that he was about to enter the world under such flattering tokens of approbation and promise.

This distinction in oratory, was acquired in a great measure, through the instruction and example of Doctor Maxcy, then President of Rhode-Island College. This gentleman was a model in pulpit oratory, and deeply versed in those elegant studies associated with eloquence. His eloquence, however, was not of that kind which receives most applause from the unthinking multitude. It was altogether mental: "You seemed to hear the soul of the man; and each one of the largest assembly, in the most extended place of worship, received the slightest impulse of his silver voice, as if he stood at his very ear. So intensely would he enchain attention, that in the most thronged audience, you heard nothing but him, and the pulsations of your own heart."

The Oration delivered at Commencement, together with the address to his classmates we will here introduce.


The Oration commences thus: "Human nature has been a theme of much discussion. Among the ancients, some railed at man, and some ridiculed his imperfections. Certain modern philosophers make depravity a part of their creed; and assign the most elevated seat in Paradise to those, who feel the most perfect contempt for human nature. The catechisms of these sages inform us, that man is malevolent; that his passions hurry him into wretchedness; and that his understanding is only another name for imperfection. Should individuals offer this for a description of their own minds, perhaps justice might read the character with silent approbation. When it is produced as the picture of man, the same justice commands us to wipe the aspersion from the portrait of our common nature.

"If exalted actions flow from elevated sentiments, then, to establish human dignity, and reason man into approbation of himself, must be among the first advancements towards virtue. "Be it, therefore, our task, to plead the cause of man.

1 Burges's Oration, before the Federal Adelphi, in 1831.

2 Critics may remember, that depravity, through the whole of this piece, signifies such a disposition of heart, as wishes universal diffusion of wretchedness.


"Let us examine his disposition; consider the utility of his passions; survey the perfection of his understanding, and observe how far surrounding creation stands as monumental testimony of human greatness. From the situation of man, we may argue the necessity of benevolence in his disposition. He was, doubtless, formed for happiness. His desire of bliss, and his powers of fruition, evince the truth of this assertion. His felicity depends, almost entirely, on social intercourse. Solitary, man is in want, in fear, in disconsolation. reciprocation of beneficence alone can make him happy. This he must be disposed to perform, or he cannot fulfil the final cause of his nature. Man's destination for, happiness, and his mutual dependence, therefore, clearly originate the necessity of human benevolence.


"Feeling and experience evince the benevolent disposition of man. A sight of distress wounds the heart. A view of joy warms the soul with gladness. We are pleased to remove pain. We rejoice to communicate delight. These things we could not perform without a disposition to diffuse felicity. This disposition is all we mean by benevolence.

"Suppose the heart of man malevolent, he must then lose every social satisfaction. For who could receive those mutual favors, which none were disposed to bestow? Man must be condemned to solitary misery. Never would he wipe a tear from the eye of sorrow; never would he pour the balm of consolation into the bosom of grief. Nay, he would grieve at the appearance of joy. He would eagerly disseminate wretchedness. Every benefaction of Providence would swell the tide of human misery; and man could never smile undisturbed, while one joyous emotion existed, even in the bosom of Deity. Must we believe man endowed with such a disposition? Yes, if we believe him malevolent. But can our reason, our feelings, our experience, subscribe to such a creed? No. For necessity and sympathy both evince man benevolent. Nor could he be


otherwise, unless his soul were blacker than the dunnest fiend that a distempered fancy ever generated in the dark regions of mythology.

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