Abbildungen der Seite

was understood that he had decided to accept it, a number of our most eminent citizens tendered to him the compliment of a farewell dinner; which took place on the 20th August, at the Mansion House. It was reported in the newspapers, and from a copy now before us, we may simply say, that it was such a flattering congé, as one would almost shrink from. Mr. Du Ponceau was in the chair, and a number of our best speakers on the floor. The testimonials of regard were expressed in the most forcible terms, and with the warmest feeling; the modest response was that of a man tearing himself from cherished associations. Dr. Patterson removed with his family to Charlottesville the same autumn; and was there seven years, fulfilling the office already stated; part of that time he was also Chairman of the Faculty. Meantime his two sons were educated, and advanced to their college degrees; the eldest daughter was married; and the doctor with his whole family might have been evermore Virginians, but for an important circumstance, which comes next in order. A letter was received in May, 1835, written at the instance of President Jackson, through the proper Department, informing him that the Directory of the Mint would soon be vacant, and inquiring whether he would accept that situation. It was a gratifying, though rather unfashionable mode of going into office; and the offer happened to suit his plans and preferences. An affirmative answer being returned, a commission was soon after forwarded; and on the 18th July, he was legally qualified. His departure from Charlottesville was the completion of twenty-two years' service as a teacher; his return” to Philadelphia was the initiation into a national trust, and a sphere of duty, which has always sought an incumbent from the ranks where science and statesmanship were found in combination. The range of political economy scarcely includes a more important and delicate interest, than the conservation of the standards and relative values of real money, and the faithful execution of monetary laws. In this office he has since continued, under various and even opposite administrations; and it is little enough to say, with the official confidence of each. Dr. Patterson's political preferences have never been carried so far as to make him a “politician;” state the fact, that a simple repugnance to political life, decided him, in the period of his former residence in Philadelphia, to decline a nomination to Congress, by the party which then had the power to elect. Within the term of his directorship, various important measures have been adopted in relation to the Mint and coinage. We can mention but two, the first of which was due to his agency, while the other has greatly added to his responsibility. 1. A carefully digested and consolidated code of Mint Laws was drawn up by him, submitted to the action of Congress, and passed in January,

* Perhaps the best summing-up of his professional course in Virginia, which we could give, would be a simple copy of a Resolution of the Board of Visitors of the University. It reads as follows:–

“Dr. R. M. Patterson having resigned the Professorship of Natural Philosophy, in the University of Virginia, which for the last six [seven] years he has filled with such distinguished ability and success, the Board of Visitors cannot permit his connexion with the Institution, of which they are the guardians, to be dissolved, without expressing the high sense they entertain of the valuable services he has rendered it, tendering him the cordial sentiments of esteem and respect with which his character and conduct have inspired them,-and assuring him of the lively interest they will continue to

indeed, we may here

1837. The benefits of this act were numerous; one of them, of more public concern, was the simplification of the standards of gold and silver coin, and the modes of expressing them.* 2. The

take in his prosperity and happiness, wheresoever his duties and the course of events may call him. The Secretary will enter this expression of the sentiments of the Board on the journal, and communicate a copy thereof to Dr. Patterson.” Dated July, 1835, and attested by Dr. Frank Carr, Secretary. Here we may add, that on his return to Philadelphia, another celebration, of the sort already mentioned, took place (October, 1835,) at the Mansion House. Mr. Du Ponceau and Dr. Chapman presided at the table. * To exemplify this briefly ; our silver coin, by an early legislative blunder, was fixed at such a rate of fineness, that there was no way of expressing it but by a long show of figures, an impracticable nicety of arithmetic; the gold coin had originally been of an easy proportion (eleven-twelfths fine), but in 1834, in the eager haste to lower its standards, and bring it into circula. tion, another error in the law-making power (for which Dr. Moore, then . Director, was no way responsible) affixed an equally inexpressible ratio upon that metal. If any one inquired the alloy of our coinage, he was not likely

addition of three southern branches, to the Mint establishment, took place after his assuming the directorship, and the whole being under his supervision, there is of course a large addition to the amount of official care and labour. We conclude this imperfect sketch, by noticing, since his return to Philadelphia, his election as a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (Boston) in 1839; and his engaging, with lively interest, in the management of the Pennsylvania Institution for the Blind. Perhaps if we should take an account of those who had devoted as much attention to the advancement of knowledge, we should find that a majority of them had been contributors to the press. For reasons of his own, Dr. P. has refrained from authorship. But we are not without some specimens of his facility in this line, in various printed addresses; the most elaborate of which was the Discourse delivered before the Philosophical Society in May, 1843, at the celebration of its hundredth year. The discourse embodies a history, and the only one, of that society. The personal appearance of the living, it is not our plan to describe; we should be allowed to say, that Dr. P. is of a strong and healthy constitution, a temperate liver, active and prompt in his business habits, walks the streets with the rapidity of a tradesman, and in his general appearance, would be taken for a man of several years younger than the actual mark. Dr. Patterson has had six children. 1. ELIZABETH Leiper, born April 17, 1815, was married on the 14th February, 1832, to John Taylor, Jr., an extensive planter of Caroline county, Va., and grandson of the well known statesman of the same name. Her health after marriage was interrupted by severe attacks of disease ; it was to recruit from one of these, that she made a visit, which proved to be the last, to her friends in Philadelphia, in September, 1844. On the evening of the 27th, although apparently well, a slight, perhaps ominous, sense of indisposition, restrained her from going abroad with the rest of the family. The morning found her in a state of unconsciousness, not even able to recognise her husband, who had just arrived from Virginia; and on the same day (28th) she died. Elizabeth was a favourite in our family connexion. To good sense, and gentle manners, were united a warm heart, and a lovely disposition. But we would dwell upon the fervent and mature piety, as the most comforting and elevating trait of character. She had, from a child, felt the worth, and the need, of religion. The little school-girl of six or eight years, who was supposed to be giving her solitary hours to her lesson, was in truth spending half those hours in secret worship. The birth and death of an infant, events sadly brought in close proximity, freshly admonished her of the duty of taking decided ground; and in Virginia she united herself to the Episcopal church. Large and whole-hearted plans of usefulness, were checked by desperate and protracted illnesses; but intention is every thing. Sufficient on this point has been said; yet we cannot withhold a most impressive incident; a brilliant ray from a setting sun. A young woman in humble life, wasting with consumption, and known to the family, called at Dr. Patterson’s house. Elizabeth was alone with her, embracing the opportunity to give some needed and wished-for counsel on the subject of preparation for eternity; and which, we may here say, the girl afterwards declared, had proved of infinite service to her. Among other things (at this interview), she confessed to a dread of dying. “That,” said Mrs. Taylor, “is a feeling to which I am entirely a stranger. I have no fear of death, and would even prefer that it should come suddenly. If it were the will of God, I could cheerfully depart this night.” It was the will of God; it was her last night. 2. Thomas LEIPER, born August 16, 1816; was educated at the University of Virginia; thereupon studied civil engineering, and in the practice of that profession, was employed upon the Philadelphia and Baltimore Rail-road (his division of work being near Havre-de Grace), until its completion; and afterwards upon the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal. With some intermission (consequent upon the suspension of that work, in 1846,) this has been his most permanent engagement, and he is now upon that line of work. On the 20th July, 1847, he married Louisa A., daughter of the late Hon. M. C. Sprigg, of Cumberland, Md., who, in his life-time, was an eminent citizen of that place, having represented his district in Congress, and also filled the place of President of the Canal Company. Louisa was born February 18, 1825. Their present residence is at Cumberland. 3. Robert, (by a pleasant coincidence, fifth in lineal descent of the name of Robert Patterson,) was born February 4, 1819; educated at the University of Virginia, where he graduated in law, and other branches of study; read law in the office of Judge Kane, and was admitted to the Philadelphia bar, in 1840. In June, 1845, having been discouraged by increasing deafness from the practice of his profession, he accepted the place of clerk to the Director of the Mint. Married, October 7, 1845, to Rebecca, daughter of Mr. Samuel Nevins, of Philadelphia. She was born December 8, 1821. Emma, their daughter, was born August 4, 1847. 4. EMMA was born November 14, 1821. In 1841, on the 20th January (the day was chosen because it was the birth-day of her grandmother Patterson) she was married to John G. Campbell, merchant, of Philadelphia. It was an affecting coincidence, that on the same day, two years after, Emma departed this life. Possessed of superior personal attractions, gay, buoyant, and confident, she was called to resign earthly anticipations, and become a learner in the weary, salutary, discipline of affliction. In a marked contrast to the case of her elder sister, just related, death came with slow advances, and allowed time for the most untiring assiduity of friends, and every effort of medical skill; but vain was the help of man. But in a long sequestration from the world (so alluring to the young), there was opportunity for revolving the concerns of a life to come; there was much consideration; much religious counsel; much attention to the teachings of the Bible; and it was the declared conviction of an evangelical minister who saw her often, that she was prepared to die. The remains of the two sisters lie in the same ground, at Laurel Hill. 5. HELEN Hamilton, born May 11, 1825, is with her parents. 6. MARY Gray, born April 10, 1828, was married October 7,

to remember the answer, i. e. the gold, 21 carats and 2 14-43 grains, fine; the silver, 10 ounces, 14 dwts. 4 5-13 grains, fine, in a pound. The calculations were toilsome, and mathematical ingenuity could not give much relief in devising “short methods.” Dr. P.'s code introduced the simple and beautiful proportion (already used in France, and tending to universal adoption) of nine-tenths fine, both in gold and silver; and that without disturbing the existing relations or values of our metallic currency. I

« ZurückWeiter »