John Jay by William S. Thayer

Although the City of New-York claims the honor of being the birth-place of John Jay, it cannot properly be regarded as the home of his early years. Not far from the time of his birth, on the 12th of December, 1745, his father, Peter Jay, who, by honorable assiduity in the mercantile vocation, had accumulated a handsome fortune, purchased an estate in Rye, about twenty-five miles from the city, with the intention of making it his future residence. This town, situated on the southeastern corner of Westchester County, ranks among the most delightful summer resorts that adorn the northern shores of Long Island Sound. The village proper stands about a mile and a half from the Sound, on the turn-pike road between New-York and Boston. From the hills extending along its northern limits, the Mockquams (Blind Brook) a perennial stream, flows southwardly through it, adding much to the beauty of its scenery. On the outskirts are many elegant villas, the favorite haunts of those who rejoice to exchange the cares of business and the dust and heat of the neighboring metropolis for its grateful seclusion and the refreshing breezes that visit it from the ocean.

For the description of the Jay estate at Rye, in the absence of personal knowledge, we shall, in the main, rely upon the account furnished by Bolton, in his excellent History of Westchester County, adhering principally to his own language.

The situation of the estate is very fine, embracing some of the most graceful undulations of a hilly district, highly diversified with rocks, woods, and river scenery. Contiguous to the southern portion of it and bordering the Sound is Marle's Neck and the neighboring islands of Pine and Hen-hawk. The curious phenomenon of the Mirage is frequently witnessed from these shores, when the land on the opposite coast of Long Island appears to rise above the waters of the Sound, the intermediate spaces seeming to be sunk beneath the waves.

The family residence is situated near the post-road leading to Rye, at a short distance from the river. The building is a handsome structure of wood, having a lofty portico on the north. The south point commands a beautiful and charming view of the Sound and Long Island. Some highly interesting family portraits adorn the walls of the hall and dining-room, among which are the following: Augustus Jay, who emigrated to this country in 1686, a copy from the original by Waldo; Anna Maria Bayard, wife of Augustus Jay, by Waldo; Peter Augustus Jay, as a boy, artist unknown; an old painting upon oak panel, supposed to represent Catherine, wife of the Hon. Stephen Van Cortlandt, of Cortlandt, South Holland. This lady appears habited in a plain black dress, wearing a high neck-ruffle, and, in her hand, holds a clasped Bible. In one corner of the picture is inscribed "Štat. 64, 1630." In the library is the valuable cabinet of shells, amounting to several thousands, of which the collector, John C. Jay, M.D., has published a descriptive catalogue. Noticeable among the family relics is the gold snuff-box, presented by the Corporation of New-York with the freedom of the city to "his Excellency, John Jay," on the 4th of October, 1784, not long after his return from diplomatic service in Spain and at Paris. An old French Bible contains the following memoranda: "Auguste Jay, est nÚ a la Rochelle dans la Royaume de France le 23/13 Mars, 1665. Laus Deo. N. York, July ye 10th, 1773, this day at 4 o'clock in ye morning dyed Eva Van Cortlandt, was buried ye next day ye 12 en ye voute at Mr. Stuyvesant's about six and seven o'clock."

In the opening of a wood on the southeast of the mansion is the family cemetery, where are interred the remains of the ancestors of the Jays. Over the grave of the Chief Justice is the following inscription, written by his son, Peter Augustus Jay:

 in memory of
JOHN JAY,
eminent among those who asserted the liberty
and established the independence
of his country,
which he long served in the most
important offices,
legislative, executive, judicial, and diplomatic,
and distinguished in them all by his
ability, firmness, patriotism, and integrity,
he was in his life, and in his death,
an example of the virtues,
the faith and the hopes
of a christian.


Born, Dec. 12, 1745,

Died, May 17, 1829.

According to his expressed desire, the body of Mr. Jay was not deposited in the family vault, but committed to the bosom of the earth. He always strenuously protested against what he considered the heathenish attempt to rescue the worthless relics of mortality from that dissolution, which seems to be their natural and appropriate destination. Within the same cemetery are also memorials to Sir James Jay, Peter Jay Munroe, Peter Jay, Goldsborough Banyar, Harriet Van Cortlandt, and other members of the family.

Pierre Jay, to whom the Jays of this country trace their origin, was one of those noble and inflexible Huguenots who were driven from France by the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes, a measure which deprived that kingdom of more than one-fourth of the most industrious and desirable class of its  population. His descendants, settling in this country, retained the characteristics which had distinguished their forefathers, and became among its most respectable and prosperous inhabitants. Peter Jay, the grandson of Pierre Jay, and, like him, engaged in mercantile pursuits, was married in the year 1728 to Mary, the daughter of Jacobus Van Cortlandt, and was the father of ten children, of whom John was the eighth. Seldom has a son been more fortunate in his parents. "Both father and mother," we are told by the biographer, "were actuated by sincere and fervent piety; both had warm hearts and cheerful tempers, and both possessed, under varied and severe trials, a remarkable degree of equanimity. But in other respects they differed widely. He possessed strong and masculine sense, was a shrewd observer and accurate judge of men, resolute, persevering and prudent, an affectionate father, a kind master, but governing all under his control with mild but absolute sway. She had a cultivated mind and a fine imagination. Mild and affectionate in her temper and manners, she took delight in the duties as well as in the pleasures of domestic life; while a cheerful resignation to the will of Providence during many years of sickness and suffering bore witness to the strength of her religious faith."

Under the tutelage of such a mother was John Jay educated till his eighth year, and from her he learned the rudiments of English and Latin grammar. Even at this tender age, the gravity of his disposition, his discretion and his fondness for books were subjects of common remark. When eight years old, he was committed to the care of Mr. Stoope, a French clergyman and keeper of a grammar-school at New Rochelle, with whom he remained for about three years. This gentleman being unfitted by reason of his oddities and improvidence for the efficient supervision of the establishment, left the young pupils, for the most part, to the tender mercies of his wife, a woman of extremely penurious habits; by whom, we are told, they were "treated with little food and much scolding." Every thing about the house under the management of this ill-assorted pair went to ruin, and the young student was often obliged, in order to protect his bed from the drifting snow, to close up the broken panes with bits of wood. Various other inconveniences fell to the lot of young Jay, but it is probable that the rigid discipline of Mrs. Stoope was not without its advantages. It had the effect of throwing its subject on his own resources, and taught him to disregard those thousand petty annoyances which, after all, are the chief causes of human misery, and which often disturb the tranquillity of the strongest minds.

From Mr. Stoope he was transferred to a private tutor, and in his fifteenth year entered King's, now Columbia College, at that time in its infancy. Here, as might have been supposed, his conduct, exemplary character and scholarship won him the esteem and respect of all. Beside the improvement and expansion of his intellect, and the opportunity of measuring himself with companions of the same age and the same studies, he received other advantages from these four years of college training. His attention being called to certain deficiencies which might impede his future success, he at once set himself at work to remedy them. An indistinct articulation and a faulty pronunciation of the letter L, he was able by the constant study and practice of the rules of elocution entirely to remove. Special attention was also paid to  English composition, by which he attained that admirable style, which in purity and classical finish was afterwards not surpassed by that of any other contemporary statesman, a style polished but not emasculate, and of such flexibility as to adapt itself equally well to the vehemence of patriotic appeal, the guarded precision of diplomatic correspondence, or to the grave and authoritative judgments of the bench. He also adopted Pope's plan of keeping by his bedside a table supplied with writing materials, in order to record at the moment of its suggestion any idea which might occur to him in waking.

During his senior year, the young student had occasion to display that decision and firmness which at a later period shone so conspicuously in affairs of greater moment. Certain mischief-making classmates, perhaps to avenge themselves on the steward, undertook to break the table in the college hall. The noise produced by this operation reaching the ears of Dr. Cooper, the President, that arbitrary personage suddenly pounced upon them without leaving them a chance of escape. The young men were at once formed in a line and two questions—"Did you break the table? Do you know who did?"—were each answered by an emphatic "No," until they were put to Jay, the last but one in the line, who had indeed been present at the disturbance but took no part in it; to the first question he replied in the negative, to the second his answer was "Yes, sir," and to the further inquiry—"Who was it?"—he promptly said, "I do not choose to tell you, sir." The remaining student followed Jay's example. The two young men, after resisting the expostulations of the President, were summoned before the Faculty for trial, where Jay appeared for the defence. To the allegation that they had been guilty of violating their written promise, on their admission, of obedience to the college statutes, Jay responded that they were not required by those statutes to inform against their companions, and that therefore his refusal to do so was not an act of disobedience. Reasonable as this defence might appear, it, of course, failed to satisfy judges, clothed with executive powers, and anxious to punish the least disregard of their own authority, and the two delinquents were at once rusticated. At the termination of his sentence Jay returned to college, where his reception by the instructors proved that he had suffered no loss of their esteem. On the 15th of May, 1764, he was graduated with the highest collegiate honors.

On leaving college, Jay entered the office of Benjamin Kissam, in the city of New-York, as a student at law. Between this gentleman and himself a degree of familiarity and mutual respect existed, quite remarkable considering their relative positions and their disparity of years. For two years in the office of Mr. Kissam, he was the fellow student of the celebrated grammarian, Lindley Murray, with whom he formed an enduring friendship, and who, in a posthumous memoir of himself, thus alludes to his companion: "His talents and virtues gave, at that period, pleasing indications of future eminence; he was remarkable for strong reasoning powers, comprehensive views, indefatigable application, and uncommon firmness of mind. With these qualifications added to a just taste in literature, and ample stores of learning and knowledge, he was happily prepared to enter on that career of public virtue by which he was afterward so honorably distinguished, and made instrumental in promoting the good of his country." Murray was a tall, handsome man, the son of Robert Murray, a venerable quaker of New-York, the location of whose farm at the lower part of the city is still pointed out by the antiquarian. Mr. Jay was admitted to the bar in 1768, and in the pursuit of his profession so extended his reputation that he was soon after appointed secretary of the commission named by the king to determine the disputed boundary between the States of New-York and New Jersey. In 1774 he was married to Sarah, the youngest daughter of William Livingston, an eminent supporter of the American cause during the Revolution, and afterwards for many years governor of New Jersey.

The limits to which we are confined allow us to take but a brief notice of Mr. Jay's numerous and most valuable public services, extending over a period of twenty-eight years, and terminating with his retirement in 1801 from the office of governor of his native State. In no one of the colonies had the cause of resistance to the mother country less encouragement than in New-York, and in no other could Great Britain number so many influential allies, yet, on the receipt of the news of the enforcement of the Boston Port Bill, Mr. Jay took a decided stand on the side of the patriots. At a meeting of the citizens of New-York, May 16, 1774, we find him on a committee of fifty appointed "to correspond with the sister colonies on all matters of moment." Young as he was, he was required to draft the response to the proposal of the Boston committee for a Congress of deputies from "the colonies in general." In the first Congress in the same year, he was a member of some of the most important committees. The "Address to the People of Great Britain," the distinguishing act of that Congress, was drafted by Mr. Jay. This eloquent document was pronounced by Jefferson, then ignorant of its  author, to be "the production certainly of the finest pen in America," and Mr. Webster considered it as standing "at the head of the incomparable productions of that body [the first Congress], productions which called forth the decisive commendation of Lord Chatham, in which he pronounced them not inferior to the finest productions of the master minds of the world."

In the interim between the close of the first, and the opening in May 1775 of the second Congress, Jay was incessantly engaged in the service of his country; and when the delegates had reassembled, his pen was again employed in the preparation of the two addresses to the inhabitants of Jamaica and of Ireland. Some reluctance being shown on the part of wealthy and influential citizens to serve in a military capacity, he, without hesitation, sought and accepted a commission as colonel of a regiment of the new militia; but his legislative ability and eloquence were too highly valued to allow of his absence from Congress, and he never actually joined his company. A second address of Congress to the king having been treated with insult, and all hope of accommodation being abandoned, he became one of the foremost advocates of warlike measures; and, while on a committee for that purpose, devised a series of plans for crippling the resources of England, which were adopted by Congress in March 1776, nearly three months previous to the formal act of severance in the Declaration of Independence. At the adoption of this measure, in consequence of his election to the Provincial Congress of New-York in April of that year, Jay was unable to affix his signature to that instrument, but, as chairman of the committee to whom the subject had been referred, he reported a resolution,  pledging that State to its support. Shortly after came the most gloomy period of the revolutionary cause in New-York; a hostile army was invading the State from the north, inspired by the defeat of the American forces on Long Island, the city was in possession of the enemy, and what was worse, treachery and despair existed among the people themselves. A committee of public safety was appointed by the Provincial Congress, clothed with dictatorial powers, of which Jay acted as chairman. At this juncture also, Mr. Jay, by appointment, put forth the thrilling address of the convention to their constituents, an appeal written in the most exalted strain of patriotic eloquence, in which he rebukes the defection and stimulates the flagging hopes of the people with the zeal and indignant energy of an ancient prophet.

In 1777, Jay, from a committee appointed the year before, drafted a State Constitution, which received the sanction of the legislature. There were certain provisions which he desired to introduce in that instrument, and which he thought more likely to be adopted when proposed in the form of amendments than if they should be incorporated into the first draft; but a summons to the side of his dying mother prevented the realization of his wishes. One of the amendments which he intended to urge, was a provision for the gradual abolition of slavery within the limits of the State. Under the new constitution, having been appointed to the office of Chief Justice, he was ineligible by that instrument to any other post, except on a "special occasion," but, in consequence of a difficulty arising between his own, and the neighboring State of Vermont, the legislature took advantage of the exception, and elected him delegate to Congress. Without vacating, therefore, his judicial seat, he complied with their appointment, and soon after his entrance in Congress became its presiding officer. The impossibility, however, of doing full justice to both his judicial and legislative duties, induced him to resign his seat on the bench. Congress now employed his pen in writing the circular letter to the States, urging them to furnish additional funds for the war. This statesmanlike exposition of the government's financial condition closes with a noble appeal to the national honor.

"Rouse, therefore, strive who shall do most for his country; rekindle that flame of patriotism, which, at the mention of disgrace and slavery, blazed throughout America and animated all her citizens. Determine to finish the contest as you began it, honestly and gloriously. Let it never be said that America had no sooner become independent than she became insolvent, or that her infant glories and growing fame were obscured and tarnished by broken contracts and violated faith, in the very hour when all the nations of the earth were admiring and almost adoring the splendor of her rising."

In 1779, accompanied by his wife, he sailed for Spain, as minister plenipotentiary, in order to secure the concurrence of that kingdom in the treaty with France, recognizing the independence of the United States; and though his diplomatic negotiations were conducted in the most honorable spirit, and with consummate prudence and ability, the object of his mission was finally frustrated by the selfish policy of the Spanish government, in requiring America to surrender the right of navigating on the Mississippi. It was during his residence at the Spanish court, that the desperate financial embarrassments of Congress prompted a measure equally unjust to their representative abroad and hazardous to the national credit. Presuming upon the success of his mission, they had empowered their treasurer to draw on Mr. Jay bills payable at six months, for half a million of dollars. As these bills came in, the minister was placed in a situation of extreme perplexity, but his regard for his country's reputation overcame all private considerations; he adopted the patriotic but desperate expedient of making himself personally responsible for their payment, and his acceptances had exceeded one hundred thousand dollars before any relief came to hand. Mr. Jay's residence in Spain also subjected him to other trials, only less severe than the one just mentioned; the vexatious obstacles placed in way of his negotiations by the Spanish government; the insufficiency of his salary at the most expensive court in Europe; the frequent removal of the court from place to place, at the royal pleasure, involving the absence of his wife, whom, for pecuniary reasons, he was unable to take with him; the death of his young child, and his anxiety for the family whom he had left at home, exposed to the dangers of war, and from whom, for more than a year, not a line had been received, might well have harassed a less sensitive nature than his. The fortitude with which he sustained these annoyances may be seen in a letter written by him about this time to his friend, Egbert Benson, of New-York. It commences thus:

"Dear Benson:

"When shall we again, by a cheerful fire, or under a shady tree, recapitulate our juvenile pursuits or pleasures, or look back on the extensive field of politics we once have trodden? Our plans of life have, within these few years past, been strangely changed. Our country, I hope, will be the better for the alterations. How far we individually may be benefited is more questionable. Personal considerations, however, must give way to public ones, and the consciousness of having done our duty to our country and posterity, must recompense us for all the evils we experience in their cause."

From Spain, by order of Congress, Jay proceeded to Paris to arrange, in conjunction with Franklin, Adams, Jefferson, and Laurens, the Definitive Treaty of Peace with England,—the most important diplomatic act of the eighteenth century; and we have the testimony of Mr. Fitzherbert, then the English minister resident in Paris, that "it was not only chiefly but solely through his means that the negotiations of that period between England and the United States were brought to a successful conclusion." Mr. Oswald had arrived in Paris with a commission, in which the United States were mentioned under the designation of "colonies," but Jay, although his associates did not participate in his scruples, refused to begin negotiations without a preliminary recognition on the part of England of the Independence of the United States; and owing to his firmness a new commission was obtained from the king, in which that most essential point (as the sequel proved) was gained. Declining the appointment now tendered him by Congress of commissioner to negotiate a commercial treaty with England, Jay returned to his country. On arriving at New-York he was welcomed by a most enthusiastic public reception, and was presented by the corporation of New-York with the freedom of the city in a gold box. The office  of Secretary for foreign affairs, which, for the want of a suitable incumbent, had been vacant for two years, was at this time urged by Congress upon his acceptance, and he did not feel at liberty to refuse his services. He was now virtually at the head of public affairs. The whole foreign correspondence of the government, the proposal of plans of treaties, instructions to ministers abroad, and the submission of reports on all matters to which Congress might call his attention, came within the scope of his new duties.

Mr. Jay was among the first of our statesmen to perceive the defects of the confederation, and to urge the necessity of a new and more efficient system of government. Besides his contributions to the Federalist, he wrote an address to the people of New-York, then the very citadel of the opposition to the proposed Constitution, which had no unimportant effect in securing its adoption. In the State Convention, which had assembled with only eleven out of fifty-seven members in its favor, Jay took a most influential part, and mainly owing to his exertions was it finally ratified. At the commencement of the administration of Washington, he was invited by that great man to select his own post in the newly-formed government. He was accordingly appointed Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, and well did he justify, in his new capacity, the glowing eulogium of Webster, that "when the spotless ermine of the judicial robe fell on John Jay it touched nothing less spotless than itself." In the performance of his duties as the first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, much was accomplished by him in organizing the business of the court, expounding the principles of its decisions, and in commending them to a confederacy of sovereign States, already sufficiently jealous of its  extensive but beneficent jurisdiction. His decision in the novel case of a suit instituted against the State of Georgia by a citizen of another State, is a memorable instance of his firmness and judicial ability.

The year 1794 opened with every prospect of a disastrous war between Great Britain and the United States. The Revolution did not terminate without leaving in the minds of Americans a strong and perhaps an unreasonable antipathy to the mother country, which was stimulated by the unwise interference of Genet, the French minister, in our politics, and by the exertions of a large class of British refugees, who had escaped to our country still smarting under the oppressions which they had experienced at home, and who were extremely desirous of plunging the American government into the contest which was then raging between France and England. There were also certain substantial grievances universally admitted by our citizens, which would give some countenance to such a measure on the part of America. Among these were enumerated the detention in violation of the treaty of the posts on our western frontier by British garrisons, thereby excluding the navigation by Americans of the great lakes, the refusal to make compensation for the negroes carried away during the war by the British fleet, the exclusion and capture of American vessels carrying supplies to French ports, and the seizure of our ships in the exercise of the pretended right of search. These, and other outrages, were justified by Great Britain, on the ground of certain equivalent infractions of the treaty by the American nation. Washington however could not be induced to consent to hazard the national interests, by transgressing that neutrality so necessary to a young republic only  just recovering from the severe experience of a seven years' war, and he saw no other honorable means of averting the impending danger than the appointment of a special envoy, empowered to adjust the matters in dispute. For this purpose, on his nomination, Mr. Jay was confirmed on the 20th of April, 1794, by the Senate, as Minister to England, at which country he arrived in June of that year. The treaty was signed in November following, and the negotiations of the two ministers, Lord Grenville and Mr. Jay, were greatly facilitated by their mutual esteem and the good understanding existing between them; and their correspondence, which was characterized by signal ability on both sides, affords an instance of diplomatic straightforwardness and candor almost without a parallel in history. It as not consistent with the plan of our sketch to speak of the provisions of the treaty thus secured: it was not, in all respects, what Jay, or the country desired; but in view of the immense advantages to our commerce obtained by it, the complicated and delicate questions adjusted, and the disasters which would have befallen the nation had it been defeated, it will challenge comparison with any subsequent international arrangement to which the United States have been a party. Yet, incredible as would seem, the abuse and scurrility with which both it and its author were loaded, discloses one of the most disgraceful chapters in the records of political fanaticism. By an eminent member of the opposing party, he was declared to have perpetrated "an infamous act," an act "stamped with avarice and corruption." He himself was termed "a damned arch-traitor," "sold to Great Britain," and the treaty burned before his door. Enjoying the confidence of the illustrious Washington, and of the wisest and  best men of his country, in his course, and above all, the inward assurance of his unswerving rectitude, Jay might well forgive these ebullitions of party spleen and await the sanction which has been conferred on his actions by the impartial voice of posterity.

But no statesman of that time had, on the whole, less reason to complain of popular ingratitude than Jay; before he reached his native shore, a large majority of the people of New-York had expressed their approbation of his conduct by electing him to the office of Governor. While in this office, the appropriate close of his public career, besides suggesting many useful measures in regard to education and internal improvements, the benefits of which are experienced to this day, he had the happiness of promoting and witnessing the passage by the Legislature of the act for the gradual abolition of slavery in his native State. Of this measure he was one of the earliest advocates, having served as the first President of the Society of Manumission, which had been organized in 1786 by a number of the most respectable gentlemen in New-York, and to whose disinterested exertions the success of the anti-slavery cause was mainly due. On accepting the seat tendered to him in the Supreme Court, Jay, fearing that the presidency of the society might prove an embarrassment in the decision of some questions which might come before him, resigned the office and was succeeded by Hamilton, who continued to discharge its duties till the year 1793.

At the expiration of his second gubernatorial term in 1801, Jay, contrary to the importunities of his friends, retired from public life, having, for twenty-seven years, faithfully served his country in every department of legislative, diplomatic, and judicial trust. Declining the office of Chief Justice, which was again pressed by the President upon his acceptance, he prepared to enjoy that congenial seclusion under the shade of his patrimonial trees, which, through all the varied and agitating scenes of political life, had been the object of his most ardent desires. In accordance with this design, he had built a substantial house at Bedford, about forty-four miles from New-York, on an estate embracing some eight hundred acres, which had come to him by inheritance. Here, in one of the most delightful localities in the fertile county of Westchester, in the care of his family and estates, in the society of his friends and his books, in the discharge of the duties of neighborly benevolence, and in the preparation for those immortal scenes which he had reason to suppose would soon open upon him, he passed the tranquil remainder of his days. But his enjoyments were not destined to exempt him from those bitter but universal visitations, which, at times, overthrow the happiness and frustrate the most pleasing anticipations of our race. In less than twelve months after his retirement, the partner of his joys and sorrows, who, by her accomplishments, her unobtrusive virtues and solicitous affection, had been at once his delight and support, was taken from him. At the final hour, Jay, as the biographer tells us, stood by the bedside "calm and collected," and when the spirit had taken its departure, led his children to an adjoining room, and with "a firm voice but glistening eye" read that inspiring and wonderful chapter in which Paul has discussed the mystery of our future resurrection.

Considering its natural advantages and its connection by railway with the great metropolis, Bedford, the ancient half shire town of Westchester County, can hardly be praised on the score of its "progressive" tendencies. At the time of Jay's residence there, the mail-coach from New-York, employing two long days in the journey, visited the town once a week, and even now the locomotive which thunders through it perhaps a dozen times a day, hardly disturbs its rural quietude. It may, however, claim considerable distinction in the annals of Indian warfare, for, within its limits, on the southern side of Aspetong Mountain, is still pointed out the scene of a bloody conflict between the savages and the redoubtable band of Captain Underhill, in which the latter coming suddenly at night on a village of their foes, slaughtered them without mercy to the number of five hundred; "the Lord," as the record goes, "having collected the most of our enemies there, to celebrate some festival." Bedford was formerly under the jurisdiction of Connecticut, and the apparent thrift and independent bearing of its farming population are decided indications of their New England descent. Its situation is uncommonly pleasant and healthful, and although the surface of the country is somewhat rocky and uneven, the soil is excellently adapted for agricultural purposes. The higher grounds display an abundant growth of all varieties of oak, elm, ash, linden, chestnut, walnut, locust, and tulip trees, while its fertile valleys and its sunny hillside exposures furnish ample spaces for pasturage or cultivation. A number of beautiful streams water the meadows, of which the two largest, the Cisco or Beaver Dam, and Cross River, after flowing for a long distance separately, just before leaving the town, wisely conclude to unite their forces and bear a generous tribute to the waters of the Croton. The Beaver Dam derives its name from having  once been the favorite haunt of the beavers, who in former times found a plentiful sustenance in the bark of the willows, maples and birches which still linger on its banks.

The traveller who wishes to survey the mansion of "the good old governor," as Mr. Jay is still called by those villagers who remember his liberality and benevolent interest in their welfare, leaves the Harlem railroad at Katona, the northwest portion of the town, so called from the name of the Indian chief, who formerly claimed dominion of this part of the country, and proceeds in a southeasterly direction along a road somewhat winding and hilly, tiresome enough certainly to the pedestrian, but occasionally relieving him with exhilarating prospects on either side of farmhouses with well-stored and ample barns, wooded hills with green intervales, waving fields of grain, and pastures of well-fed, contemplative cattle, who shake their heads as if their meditations were a little disturbed by his presence. Every thing about the farms has the aspect of good order and thrift, and nothing mars the general impression except the occasional sight of some happy family of swine, who appear to exercise a sort of right of eminent domain among the weeds and roots on the roadside. A snow-white sow with thirty snow-white young, according to an ancient poet, was the immediate inducement to Ăneas in selecting the site of his future city; whether such an attraction would prove equally potent in our own times, is more questionable. As one approaches the estate of Jay, the marks of superior taste and cultivation are apparent; the stone walls are more neatly and compactly built, and the traveller is refreshed by the grateful shade of the long rows of maples and elms which were planted along the road by Jay and his descendants, some of whom still make their summer residence in Bedford. After proceeding for two or three miles from the railroad station, we turn up a shaded avenue on the left, which winds round the southern slope of the hill, at the top of which stands the modest mansion of John Jay. This is a dark brown wooden two-storied building, facing the southwest, with an addition of one story at each end, the main building having a front of forty-five feet, along which is extended a porch of ample dimensions. Passing through the hall we find in the rear a background of magnificent woods, principally oak and chestnut, though nearer the house are a number of gigantic willows still flourishing in the strength and verdure of youth. Concealed in the foliage of these woods, a little to the west, is the small school-house of stone erected by Jay for his children, and on the other side of the mansion, towards the northeast, are the barns, carriage-house, and the farm-house, occupied by a tenant, who has supervision of the estate. These tenements are almost screened from view by a grove of locust trees, for which Jay showed a special partiality, and whose snow-white robe of blossoms in the latter part of spring affords a pleasing contrast with the light green of the tasselled chestnuts, and the dark and glossy shade of the oak and walnut foliage behind. In front of the barn, on the eastern side of the house, is the garden, which, though not making any pretension to superiority in its extent or its cultivation, displays an excellent variety of fruits and flowers, for the most part, such as thrive easily in that soil, and are most useful and appropriate to the wants of an American household. Jay, though for his period uncommonly versed in horticultural matters, did not, in his old-fashioned simplicity, choose to waste much time in  transplanting those contumacious productions of foreign countries which "never will in other climates grow." Ascending the hill a short distance, we come again to the house, immediately in front of which, without obstructing the view, stands a row of four handsome lindens. Before the dwelling, which is nearly half a mile from the main road, stretches the green lawn irregularly diversified with groups of trees, and beyond is seen the sightly ridge of "Deer's Delight," once the resort of the beautiful animal from which it takes its designation; and certainly the choice of such a delectable locality would have done credit to creatures far more reasonable. This spot is crowned with the elegant country-seat of Mr. John Jay, a grandson of the Chief Justice, who, in taking advantage of its natural beauties, and adapting it to the purposes of his residence, has shown a degree of taste which has rarely been surpassed. On the western slope, which is somewhat more abrupt than the others, is the orchard, and from a thatched arbor on the brink of the descent, the eye surveys a large part of that circle of hills in which Bedford appears to be almost inclosed. A most enchanting rural landscape is here spread out, embracing a wide extent of country dotted with thriving farms and villages, graceful declivities wandered over by numerous herds of cattle, valleys and pellucid streams, glimmering at intervals from thick and overshadowing foliage. Further towards the west is the long line of hills just shutting off the view of the Hudson, and overlooked by the still loftier range of the highlands on the other side of the river, conspicuous among which towers the Dunderberg or bread-tray mountain. From this spot the magnificent variations of sunset are seen to great advantage. No man endowed with the least susceptibility to the charm of  outward nature, can contemplate without enthusiasm the broad suffusion of crimson blazing along those western hills, gradually passing into orange and purple; and finally closing with a deep glowing brown, while the clear brilliant sky above pales and darkens at the almost imperceptible coming on of night.

The interior arrangements of the house have not been essentially varied since the lifetime of its first illustrious occupant. They all bear marks of that republican simplicity and unerring good taste which were among his distinguishing characteristics. The furniture, though of the best materials, was obviously chosen more for use than ornament, and is noticeable chiefly for an air of antique respectability and comfort, which, in spite of the perpetually changing fancies in such matters, can never go out of fashion. On the right of the hall, as one enters, is the dining-room, an apartment of perhaps some twenty feet square; in this and in the parlor opposite, which has about the same dimensions, are several interesting family portraits, the works mostly of Stewart and Trumbull, among which are those of Egbert Benson, Judge Hobart, Peter Jay, John Jay, and Augustus Jay, the first American ancestor of the family, the artist of which is unknown. Passing through the parlor, we enter the small room at the west end of the house, occupied as a library, and containing a well-assorted but not extensive supply of books. Here were the weighty folios of Grotius, Puffendorf, Vattel, and other masters of the science of international law, besides a number of standard theological and miscellaneous works, with the classic authors of antiquity, among whom Cicero appears to have been his special favorite. In the library hangs a portrait of Governor Livingston, the  father-in-law of Jay; a vigorous manly boy, the characteristics of whose youthful features have been retained with singular distinctness in those of his descendants. He is represented as dressed in the full-sleeved coat and elaborate costume of his time, and with a sword hanging at his side, an outfit hardly in accordance with so tender an age. The oaken press and strong-bound chest of cherry wood are also in this room, the latter the receptacle perhaps of Jay's important papers;—these ancient heirlooms are presumed to have crossed the ocean more than a century and a half ago.

Notwithstanding the infirmities of the last twenty years of his life, Jay enjoyed an old age of remarkable tranquillity and happiness. He set an example of undeviating punctuality; the hour and the man always came together, and in his habits he was extremely regular. In order to assist him in rising early, an aperture, shaped like the crescent moon, was made in the solid oaken shutter of his apartment, by which a glimpse might be caught of the first rays of the uprising dawn. The reading of prayers was succeeded by breakfast, after which the greater part of the day was commonly spent in attending to the affairs of his extensive farm. Most of the time when thus engaged, he rode on the back of a favorite sorrel mare, of the famous Narraganset breed, now extinct. This faithful creature died in 1819, after a service of twenty-three years. Two of the same stock belonging to Mr. Jay had died in succession previously, the grandam having been given by his father in 1765. It was probably of the latter animal that he wrote from Europe in 1783, under the apprehension that she might have fallen into the hands of the enemy.

"If my old mare is alive, I must beg of you and my brother to take good care of her. I mean that she should be well fed and live idle, unless my brother Peter should choose to use her. If it should be necessary to advance money to recover her, I am content you should do it even to the amount of double her value."

At half-past one came the dinner hour, after which he was wont to indulge moderately in smoking. A few of his long clay pipes are still preserved. They were imported for him from abroad, and were considered in their time an unusually select and valuable article. His evenings were devoted to reading and the company of his family and neighbors. Once or twice a year, Judge Benson, Peter Jay, Monroe, or some other old friend, would take a journey to his hospitable home to pass a week in living over, in conversation, their long and varied experience, and occasionally some stranger from foreign lands, attracted by his wide-spread reputation, would receive at his hands a cordial yet unostentatious welcome. Though possessed of a large landed property from which he enjoyed a respectable income, his family expenses and the management of his estate were regulated by a judicious and liberal economy. Remarkably affectionate in his disposition and solicitous for the welfare of his children, his demeanor towards them was marked with unvarying equability and decision. An extract from a letter to Mrs. Jay, dated London, 5th Dec., 1794, illustrates his views on this head:

"I hope N—— will amuse herself sometimes with her spinning-wheel. God only knows what may one day be her situation. Polite accomplishments merit attention, useful knowledge should not be neglected. Let us do the best we can with, and for our children, and commit them to the protection and guidance of Providence."

 By his servants, his poorer neighbors, and all who were in any way dependent on him, he was reverenced and loved. He promptly and liberally responded to all movements calculated to promote the general good. In one instance of this kind, he showed an adroitness in his beneficence which is somewhat amusing. The townspeople were about to erect a school-house, and it was apprehended that from mistaken considerations of economy, the building would be less substantial in its construction than was desirable. When, therefore, the subscription list was presented to Jay, he put down a liberal sum against his name "if of wood, if of stone, double." Another example occurs in his dealings with his less fortunate neighbors, evincing the union of austere and inflexible regard for public justice with the most sensitive sympathy with individual suffering, which is cited in Professor McVicar's appreciative and eloquent sketch of Jay's life. The case referred to is that of "a poor blacksmith in his neighborhood, who had encroached with his building on the public highway, and refused to recede; Jay prosecuted him to the extreme rigor of the law, and having duly punished the offender, proceeded to make it up tenfold to the poor man by deeding to him an acre or two of ground from his own farm, in order that his necessities might be no plea for any further breach of the law."

A pleasing reminiscence of Jay has been told by the son of the recipient of his bounty, a poor widow, whose utmost exertions were barely sufficient for the support of her family. Some time after the Governor's death, she received a note from Mr. William Jay, the occupant of the old mansion, requesting her to visit him as he had some pleasant news for her. In great perplexity as to the nature of the promised  communication, the good woman complied, and on arriving at the house, was thus addressed by that gentleman: "My father, before he died, requested to be buried in the plainest manner; 'by so doing,' said he, 'there will be a saving of about two hundred dollars which I wish you to give to some poor widow whom you and your sister may consider most worthy, and I wish you to get the silver money and count it out now,' and," continued Mr. Jay, "my sister and I have selected you and here is the money." The gratitude of the widow found no answer but in tears as she bore away the treasure to her dwelling. The recollection of deeds like these is the imperishable inheritance which Jay has left to his descendants, and it is a distinction besides which mere heraldic honors fade into insignificance, that, from the beginning to this day, the great name of Jay has been inseparably linked with the cause of the neglected and oppressed against the encroachments of unscrupulous power.

The personal appearance of Jay, at the age of forty-four, is thus described by Mr. Sullivan: "He was a little less than five feet in height, his person rather thin but well formed. His complexion was without color, his eyes black and penetrating, his nose aquiline, and his chin pointed. His hair came over his forehead, was tied behind and lightly powdered. His dress black. When standing, he was a little inclined forward, as is not uncommon with students long accustomed to bend over a table." With the exception of the mistake as to the color of his eyes, which were blue and not black, this is probably an accurate picture. But it gives no idea of the blended dignity and courtesy which were apparent in his features and his habitual bearing, to a degree, says a  venerable informant, never witnessed in any other man of that time. His general appearance of reserve was sometimes misconstrued by those who were little acquainted with him into haughtiness. This was undoubtedly native, in some measure, to his character, but much, we have reason to suppose, existed more in appearance than in reality, and was the unavoidable expression of one long and intensely engaged in affairs of great moment,

"Deep on whose front engraved
Deliberation sat, and public cares."

Not without a keen sense of the ludicrous, he rarely indulged in jocose remarks; yet he is said, at times, when much importuned for certain information or opinions which he did not care to reveal, to have shown a peculiarly shrewd humor in his replies, which baffled without irritating the inquirer. Perhaps a delicate piece of advice was never given in more skilfully worded and unexceptionable phraseology than in his answer to a confidential letter from Lord Grenville, inquiring as to the expediency of removing Mr. Hammond, the British Minister at Washington, who, for some reason or other, had become extremely distasteful to the government there. As Mr. Hammond was a personal friend to Jay, the inquiry was naturally embarrassing, but he still deemed it his duty to advise the minister's recall. Accordingly, in his reply, after first declaring his friendship for Mr. Hammond and his entire confidence in that gentleman's ability and integrity, he refers to the unhappy diplomatic difficulties of that gentleman, and concludes by saying, "Hence I cannot forbear wishing that Mr. Hammond had a better place, and that a person well adapted to the existing state of things was sent to succeed him."

As William Penn said of George Fox, Mr. Jay was "civil beyond all forms of breeding;" the natural refinement and purity of his disposition were expressed in his appearance and manners, and perhaps we might apply with propriety the remainder of Penn's description:—"He was a man whom God endowed with a clear and wonderful depth,—a discoverer of other men's spirits and very much the master of his own. The reverence and solemnity of his demeanor and the fewness and fulness of his words often struck strangers with admiration." In his character, the qualities of wisdom, decision, truthfulness, and justice held a supreme and unquestioned sway. Under their direction, he was often led into measures which seemed at first to hazard his own interests, as when at Paris he violated his congressional instructions for the benefit of his country; but these measures were adopted with such deliberation, and pursued with so unhesitating perseverance that their results invariably justified the course he had taken. The three most important concessions ever gained by America from foreign countries, the concessions which now our country most values and would be least willing to surrender, namely, the Navigation of the Mississippi, the Participation in the British Fisheries and the Trade with the West Indies, are due almost solely to the foresight, the diplomatic ability and the firmness of John Jay. When we consider the comparative insensibility of Congress at that time, and the country at large, to the incalculable value of these rights, we may feel assured that had America sent abroad an agent of different character, the wily diplomatists of Europe would have found little difficulty in wresting them from us. Jay was moreover a man of deep and fervent piety—not that merely occasional ecstasy of devotional feeling, which, although perfectly sincere, is compatible with an habitual violation of all laws human and divine, but a constant sense of responsibility to a Supreme Being for every action of his life, under which he labored

"As ever in the Great Taskmaster's eye."

It was this combination of attributes, "inviting confidence, yet inspiring respect," setting him apart from other men, yet drawing the multitude after him, that accounts for the constantly recurring demands upon his public services. The people felt that they could trust a man whose patriotism was not a temporary passion, but a well-defined and immovable principle, and they were never disappointed. In the complete harmony of his moral and intellectual qualities, so wholly free from the disturbing influence of painful and dangerous eccentricities and the considerations of self, he approached nearer than any other statesman of his age to the majestic character of Washington, and on no one of his illustrious coadjutors did that great man place so uniform and so unhesitating a reliance.

Jay had already exceeded the longest period allotted by the psalmist to the life of man, in the enjoyment of all those satisfactions which comfortable outward circumstances, the affection of friends and kindred, and the honor and reverence of a country whose vast and still enlarging prosperity were so much due to his exertions, can supply, when he received the unmistakable premonitions of his end. On the 17th of May, 1828, having previously summoned the numerous members  of the family to his bedside, and having bestowed on each his parting advice and benediction, he resigned his soul to the care of its Maker; and now, in the quiet grave-yard at Rye, near the spot where he passed the early years of his life, repose the august remains of John Jay.