Hamilton by James C. Carter

He was born in the year 1756, in the Island of St. Nevis, one of the British West Indian possessions, whither his father, a native of Scotland, had gone with the purpose of engaging in mercantile pursuits; and he was himself at the early age of twelve, placed in the counting-house of an opulent merchant, in one of the neighboring islands. But such a situation was ill suited to his disposition; and his ambition, even at that early period of his life, strongly developed, could not find in those narrow colonies a sufficient field for its exercise. The wishes of his friends favored his own inclinations, and he was sent to New-York, that he might avail himself of the more ample facilities for acquiring an education which that place and its vicinity afforded.

He went through with the studies preparatory to entering college at a school in Elizabethtown, New Jersey, which was under the patronage of Governor Livingston and Mr. Boudinot, in the former of whose families he resided. He soon qualified himself for admission to King's (now Columbia) College, and was then permitted to pursue a course of study which he had marked out for himself, without becoming a member of any particular class. At this early period he evinced those traits of character which afterwards conducted him to such high distinction, and which marked his career throughout. He brought to his tasks not only that diligence which is often exhibited by more ordinary minds, but that enthusiastic devotion of the soul, which was perhaps the most marked trait of his character.

It was while he was yet in college, that the disputes between the colonies and the mother country, just preliminary to the breaking out of hostilities, arose; but they even then engaged his earnest attention. It is probable that the tendency of his mind at that time, as in the later period of his life, was towards conservative views; and indeed he has himself said "that he had, at first, entertained strong prejudices on the ministerial side." But a mind so investigating and a spirit so generous as his would not be likely to entertain such prejudices long; and having made a visit to Boston and become excited by the tone of public feeling in that city, he directed his attention to the real merits of the controversy, and this, aided perhaps by the natural order of his temperament, produced in him a thorough conviction of the justice of the American cause. With his characteristic earnestness, he threw himself at once into the contest, and while but eighteen years of age he addressed a public meeting upon the subject of the wrongs inflicted by the mother country, and acquitted himself in a manner which amazed and delighted his hearers, and drew to him the public attention.

A meeting of the citizens of New-York had been called to consider upon the choice of delegates to the first Congress. A large concourse of people assembled, and the occasion was long remembered as "the great meeting in the fields." Hamilton was then, of course, comparatively unknown, but some of his neighbors having occasion to remark his contemplative habits and the vigor and maturity of his thoughts, urged him to address the multitude, and after some hesitation he consented.

"The novelty of the attempt, his slender and diminutive form, awakened curiosity and arrested attention. Overawed by the scene before him, he at first hesitated and faltered, but as he proceeded almost unconsciously to utter his accustomed reflections, his mind warmed with the theme, his energies  were recovered; and after a discussion, clear, cogent, and novel, of the great principles involved in the controversy, he depicted in glowing colors the long continued and long endured oppressions of the mother country. He insisted on the duty of resistance, pointed out the means and certainty of success, and described the waves of rebellion sparkling with fire and washing back upon the shores of England the wrecks of her power, her wealth, and her glory. The breathless silence ceased as he closed, and the whispered murmur—'it is a collegian, it is a collegian,' was lost in expressions of wonder and applause at the extraordinary eloquence of the young stranger."

About the same time he published anonymously two pamphlets in reply to publications emanating from the ministerial party, and in vindication of the measures of the American Congress. The powerful and eloquent manner in which the topics in controversy were discussed, excited great attention. The authorship of the pamphlets was attributed by some to Governor Livingston and by others to John Jay, and these contributed to give to those gentlemen, already distinguished, an increased celebrity; and when it was ascertained that the youthful Hamilton was the author of them, the public could scarcely credit the fact.

Upon the actual breaking out of hostilities, Hamilton immediately applied himself to the study of military science, and obtained from the State of New-York a commission as captain of a company of artillery. His conduct at once attracted the observing eye of Washington, who soon invited him to become one of his staff with the commission of Lieutenant Colonel.

Hamilton accepted the offer, and for the space of four years remained in the family of Washington, enjoying his unlimited confidence, carrying on a large portion of his correspondence, and aiding him in the conduct of the most important affairs. A hasty word from the latter led to a rupture of this connection, and Hamilton left the staff and resumed his place as an officer in the line; but Washington's confidence in him was not in the least impaired, and their friendship continued warm and sincere until the death of the latter.

In thus separating himself from the family of the Commander-in-Chief, Hamilton was influenced by other motives than displeasure at the conduct of Washington. He knew that great man too well, and loved him too well, to allow a hasty word of rebuke to break up an attachment which had begun at the breaking out of the war, and which a familiar intercourse of four years, an ardent love of the cause, and a devotion to it common to them both had deepened and confirmed. But the duties of a secretary and adviser, important as they then were, were not adequate to call forth all his various powers, and the performance of them, however skilful, was not sufficient to satisfy that love of glory which he so fondly cherished. He was born to act in whatever situation he might be placed a first rate part. He longed to distinguish himself in the battles as well as in the councils of the war. He felt that his country had need of his arm as well as of his pen; and thus the dictates of patriotism, which he never in the course of his life allowed to stand separate from the promptings of his high ambition, pointed out to him the course he took. He would not, of his own motion, leave the immediate services of Washington; but when the  opportunity was presented by the latter, he at once embraced it, and would not be persuaded by any considerations to return to his former place.

A short time previous to his leaving the family of Washington he had formed an engagement with the second daughter of Gen. Philip Schuyler, of New-York, to whom he was married on the 14th of December, 1780, at the residence of her father at Albany, and thus became permanently established in New-York. His union with this lady was one of unbroken happiness, and at a venerable age she still survives him.

His rank in the army was soon after advanced, and an opportunity for exhibiting his military skill and prowess, which he had so ardently wished for, was shortly presented. The falling fortunes of the British army in the south, under Lord Cornwallis, invited an attack in that quarter. The combined French and American forces were fast closing up every avenue of retreat, and the British commander finding that to avoid a general engagement was impossible, at last intrenched himself at Yorktown with the determination of making a final stand against the victorious progress of the American arms. In the decisive battle which succeeded, Hamilton signalized himself by a most brilliant achievement. Two redoubts in the fortifications of the enemy were to be carried in face of a most destructive fire. The attack upon one of them was assigned to a detachment of the French troops, and that upon the other to a division of the American forces. The command of the latter, at his earnest request, was given to Hamilton. At the appointed signal he "gave the order to advance at the point of the bayonet, pushed forward, and before the rest of the corps had ascended the abatis, mounted over it, stood for a moment on the parapet with three of his soldiers,  encouraging the others to follow, and sprung into the ditch. The American infantry, animated by the address and example of their leader, pressed on with muskets unloaded and fixed bayonets. They soon reached the counterscarp under a heavy and constant fire from the redoubt, and, surmounting the abatis, ditch, and palisades, mounted the parapet and leaped into the work. Hamilton, who had pressed forward, followed by the rear-guard under Mansfield, was for a time lost sight of, and it was feared he had fallen; but he soon reappeared, formed the troops in the redoubt, and as soon as it surrendered gave the command to Major Fish.

"The impetuosity of the attack carried all before it, and within nine minutes from the time the abatis was passed the work was gained." This brilliant exploit received the decisive commendation of Washington. "Few cases," said he, "have exhibited greater proofs of intrepidity, coolness, and firmness than were shown on this occasion."

The battle of Yorktown decided the event of the war of the Revolution. The profession of a soldier could no longer give sufficient scope to the restless activity of Hamilton; although then occupying a distinguished place among the most illustrious of his countrymen, and yielding, though not without regret, his arms for the toga, he selected for his future employment the profession of the law—a pursuit for which his general studies and the character of his mind, as well as his inclination, eminently fitted him.

From the period of his admission to the bar until the assembling of the convention which framed the constitution under which we now live, his time and labors were divided between the practice of his profession and the service of the public in various capacities. Of the convention he was chosen a member, and he brought to the performance of his duties in that body the purest patriotism, and abilities unsurpassed, if indeed equalled, in that assembly of illustrious men. He took from the outset a most conspicuous part in its deliberations, throwing upon every important subject which was discussed, the blended lights of his genius, experience, and learning. As the sessions of the convention were held in secret, we have but an imperfect knowledge of its proceedings; and the meagre and fragmentary reports which we possess of the speeches which were delivered in it give us a very inadequate notion of the masterly efforts of Hamilton. But the testimony of his associates in the convention, and the imperfect records we have of its deliberations, join in ascribing to him a foremost place; and an impartial student of our constitution and history, himself a profound statesman and philosopher, M. Guizot, has said that there is in our political system scarcely an element of order and durability for which we are not in a great measure indebted to the genius of Hamilton. Indeed he was the very first to point out the radical defects in the old confederation, and the absolute necessity of a government based upon a different foundation, and invested with more ample powers. The restoration of the public credit, the creation of a currency, the promotion of commerce, the preservation of the public faith with foreign countries, the general tranquillity—these were topics which he had discussed in all their relations long before the meeting of the convention, and he had early arrived at the conclusion that these great ends were to be reached in no other way than by the establishment of a National Government, emanating directly from the people at large, sovereign in its own sphere, and responsible to the people alone for the manner in which its powers were executed. In the Constitution, when it was presented for adoption, Hamilton saw some objectionable features. These he had opposed in the convention; but finding that such opposition was likely to throw obstacles in the way of any final agreement, and reorganizing in the instrument proposed to be adopted the essential features of his own plan, and wisely regarding it as the best scheme that could unite the varying opinions of men, he patriotically withdrew his opposition and gave it his hearty assent.

Hamilton was chosen a member of the convention which met at Poughkeepsie to consider the question of ratifying it, and he urged the adoption of it in a series of masterly speeches, which powerfully contributed to its final ratification. At the same time, in conjunction with Madison and Jay, he was engaged in the composition of those immortal papers, which, under the name of the "Federalist," exercised at the time such a potent influence, and which have even since been received as authoritative commentaries upon the instrument, the wisdom and expediency of which they so eloquently and successfully vindicated. In view of the extraordinary exertions of Hamilton in behalf of the Constitution, both with his tongue and pen, and of the fact that if New-York had rejected it, it would probably have failed to receive the sanction of a sufficient number of States, we think that it may without injustice to others be said, that for the ratification of our Constitution we are  more indebted to the labors of Hamilton than to those of any other single man.

When the new government went into operation with Washington at its head, Hamilton was called to fill what was then the most important place in the cabinet, that of Secretary of the Treasury. He then addressed himself to the task of carrying out the great purpose for which the Constitution was adopted—a task, the successful accomplishment of which rested more in the skilful administration of the Treasury department than that of any office under government; for upon this hung the great issues of the currency and the public credit. With what ability he executed his great trust in the face of a powerful and most virulent opposition, the event has fully shown. The system of finance which he concocted and applied has been adhered to without substantial change throughout the subsequent history of the government, and well justifies the magnificent eulogy which Webster has bestowed upon its author. "He smote the rock of the national resources, and abundant streams of revenue gushed forth. He touched the dead corpse of the Public Credit, and it sprung upon its feet. The fabled birth of Minerva from the brain of Jove was hardly more sudden or more perfect than the financial system of the United States, as it burst forth from the conceptions of Alexander Hamilton."

From the Treasury department he returned to the practice of his profession, and the calmer walks of private life; but his love for his country and the anxiety he felt for her welfare would not permit him to relinquish the prominent place he held as the leader of the Federal party. He regarded with great distrust and apprehension the principles and the practices of the rapidly increasing Democratic party. Many of its leaders he believed to be destitute of principle, and he spared no exertions in opposing them, and in endeavoring to stay the progress of radical opinions, and to infuse a spirit of moderation and wisdom into the politics of the nation.

He was now in the prime of life. A practice in his profession at that time without parallel in extent and importance, afforded him an abundant income, and held out a prospect of a competent fortune. He therefore retired from the city, purchased a beautiful spot in the upper part of the island of New-York, and there built the tasteful residence of which an engraving is prefixed to this sketch, and which of the many places where he resided may most appropriately be called his "Home." It is, we believe, the only house in New-York, in which he lived, that is now standing. Of the one in the island of St. Nevis, in which he was born, we have never seen any representation or description. During a small portion of his college life, he resided with Mr. Hercules Mulligan in Water-street; but the house was long since torn down.

After the close of the war, and during the first years of his practice at the bar, Hamilton occupied a house in Wall-street, nearly opposite the "Federal Hall," the site of the present Custom House. It was on the outer balcony of Federal Hall that Washington took the oath of inauguration upon his first election, and Hamilton, with a party of his friends, witnessed that imposing ceremony from the balcony of his own house. This building has, with most others of its time, been taken down, and a new one erected in its place to accommodate that mighty march of commercial enterprise which is fast sweeping away the last vestiges which mark the dwelling-places of the last generation.

The spot which Hamilton selected for his "Home," and to which he gave the name of "Grange," from that of the residence of his grandfather in Ayrshire, Scotland, was chosen with taste and judgment, both on account of its natural beauty, and the interesting and inspiring recollections which its vicinity suggested. It was, at that time, completely in the country, without an object to remind one of the neighborhood of the town; and even now the population of the city, so prodigiously expanded, has not much encroached upon its original limits. It is situated upon the old King's Bridge road, about eight miles from the heart of the city, and something less than a mile above the ancient village of Manhattan, and is about midway between the Hudson River on the one side and the Harlem on the other. The west side, which lies on the King's Bridge road, is adorned by a fine growth of large shade trees. From these it extends with gentle undulations to a declivity, at the base of which lie the Harlem commons. The grounds are simply but tastefully laid out, chiefly with a view to take advantage of and display the natural features of the place. The house is situated nearly in the centre of the grounds, and is reached by a gently-winding carriage-way. The stable is placed in the rear of the house and at a distance from it, and is concealed by a thick growth of trees. A gravelled walk winds among the shade trees along the road, and thence across the grounds and along the other side. The space in front and on the left of the house is laid out in a fine lawn, in which the uneven surface of the ground is preserved, dotted here and there with fine trees, the natural growth of the spot. Near the house and on the left are thirteen flourishing gum trees, said to have been left by Hamilton himself when clearing the spot, as an emblem of the thirteen original States.

The house itself is in form nearly square, of moderate size and well proportioned. The front is on the southern side; it is two stories in height, exclusive of the basement, and would have been at the time it was built a handsome and expensive one. The basement is used for culinary purposes, and the first story, which contains the parlors, is reached by a short flight of steps. You enter a commodious hall of a pentagonal form. On either side is a small apartment, of which the one on the right was the study, and contained the library of Hamilton. At the end of the hall are the doors, one on the right and the other on the left, which open into the parlors. These are of moderate size and connected by doors, by opening which they are thrown into one large room. The one on the right as you enter the house, is now, and probably was when Hamilton occupied it, used as a dining-room. The other parlor is furnished for the drawing-room. It is an octagon in form, of which three sides are occupied by doors, leading to the hall in front, the dining-room, and to a hall in the rear. In two of the opposite sides are windows reaching to the floor, and opening upon the lawn on the easterly side of the house. The three doors before mentioned are faced with mirrors, and being directly opposite the windows, they throw back the delightful landscape which appears through the latter with a pleasing effect. The story above is commodious, and divided into the usual apartments. On the north the prospect is interrupted by higher ground, and on the south by trees. On the west a view is caught of the beautiful shore of New Jersey, on the opposite side of the Hudson. From the eastern side, and especially from the balcony which extends in front of the windows of the drawing-room, a magnificent prospect is presented. The elevation being some two hundred feet above the surrounding waters, a complete view of the lower lands and of the country in the distance is commanded. Harlem with its river, the East River and Long Island Sound now dotted with a thousand sails, the fertile county of Westchester, and Long Island stretching away to the horizon, with its lovely and diversified scenery, are all in full view.

This spot has, and probably had for Hamilton, its attractions in another respect. In its immediate neighbourhood were the scenes of some of the memorable and interesting events of the Revolution. He had passed directly over it with the American army in its retreat from New-York, after the disastrous battle of Long Island. Within a short distance from it are the Harlem Heights, where by his bravery and address, while yet but a boy, he had attracted the eye of Washington, and enjoyed his first interview with him. A little further towards the north is Fort Washington, in which the continental army made its last stand upon the island, and the loss of which sealed the fate of New-York for the war. It was this fort which, in the ardor of his youthful enthusiasm and burning with chagrin at its capture, he promised Washington he would retake, if he would place a small and select detachment under his command—an enterprise which the Commander-in-Chief thought too hazardous. Just across the river on the Jersey side is Fort Lee, which fell into the hands of the enemy soon after the capture of Fort Washington;  and a short distance above, in the King's Bridge road, is the house which after the death of Hamilton became the residence of his bitter and fatal antagonist, Aaron Burr.

When he had fixed his residence in this beautiful and attractive spot he was in the prime of life, in excellent health, and in prosperous circumstances. He had been most fortunate in his domestic relations, and had around him a happy family to which he was fondly devoted. His unrivalled natural powers had been exercised and improved by a training of thirty years in the camp, the forum, the senate and the cabinet. He was almost worshipped by his friends and his party, and regarded by all as one of the very pillars of the State. Every thing in his situation and circumstances seemed auspicious of a still long career of happiness and honor to himself, of usefulness and honor to his country. But in the midst of all this, he was suddenly cut off by the melancholy and fatal duel with Col. Burr.

The public and private character of Burr, Hamilton had long known and despised. He regarded him as a dangerous man, and one wholly unfit to fill any office of trust or emolument. And this opinion, although avoiding open controversy with Burr himself, he had not scrupled to express privately to his own political friends, for the purpose of dissuading them from giving any support to one so little to be depended on. He recognized himself no other claim to political distinction than honesty of purpose, the ability and the will to serve the country, united with what he deemed to be sound political principles, neither of which recommendations could he discover in Aaron Burr.

Burr had, on the other hand, few ends in life save his own  advancement, and he scrupled at no means by which this object might be compassed; but in his most deeply laid schemes, he saw that the vigilant eye of Hamilton was upon him, and after his defeat in 1804 as a candidate for governor of the State of New-York, stung with mortification at his overthrow, and justly deeming the influence of Hamilton as one of the most potent causes of it, he resolved to fix a quarrel upon him. Seizing upon an expression which was contained in a letter, published during the recent political contest, but which had been forgotten by every one save himself, he dragged it before Hamilton's attention, tortured it into an imputation upon his personal honor, demanded of Hamilton an explanation which it was impossible for him to give, and made his refusal the pretext for a peremptory challenge.

In accepting the challenge of Burr, Hamilton was but little under the influence of those motives which are commonly uppermost in such contests. To the practice of duelling he was sincerely and upon principle opposed, and had frequently borne his testimony against it. His reputation for personal courage had been too often tried, and too signally proved to be again put at risk. His passions, though strong, were under his control, and that sensitiveness on the score of personal honor, which a man of spirit naturally cherishes, and which the habits of a military life rendered prompt and delicate, was in him satisfied by a conscious integrity of purpose. His disposition was forgiving and gentle to a fault, and made it impossible for him to feel any personal ill will even towards such a man as Burr. The manifold obligations which as an honest and conscientious man he was bound to regard—his duties to a loved and dependent family, and his country, which held almost an equal place in his affections, united to dissuade him from meeting his adversary. And yet these latter, viewed in connection with his peculiar position, with popular prejudices, and the circumstances of the times, were what impelled him to his fatal resolution. His theoretic doubts respecting a republican form of government, while they did not in the least diminish his preference for our political system, yet made him painfully anxious in regard to its success. He thought that every thing depended upon keeping the popular mind free from the corruption of false principles, and the offices of trust and honor out of the hands of bad men. To these ends he had been, and still was, employing all his energy and influence. He could not bear the thought of losing or weakening by any step, however justifiable in itself, that influence which he had reason to think was not exerted in vain. These were the large and unselfish considerations which governed him; and though a cool observer removed from the excitement and perplexities of the time may pronounce them mistaken, still if impartial he must regard them as sincere. They were what Hamilton himself, in full view of the solemnity of the step he was about to take, and of the possible event of it, declared to be his motive. "The ability," said he in the last paper he ever wrote, "to be in future useful, whether in resisting mischief or effecting good in those crises of our public affairs which seem likely to happen, would probably be inseparable from a conformity with prejudice in this particular."

After some fruitless endeavors on the part of Hamilton to convince Burr of the unreasonableness of the request which the latter had made, all explanations were closed, and the  preliminaries for the meeting were arranged. Hamilton having no wish to take the life of Burr, had come to the determination to throw away his first shot,—a course too which approved itself to his feelings for other reasons.

The grounds of Weehawk, on the Jersey shore opposite New-York, were at that time the usual field of these single combats, then chiefly by the inflamed state of political feeling of frequent occurrence, and very seldom ending without bloodshed. The day having been fixed, and the hour appointed at seven o'clock in the morning, the parties met, accompanied only by their servants. The bargemen, as well as Dr. Hosack, the surgeon mutually agreed upon, remained as usual at a distance, in order, if any fatal result should occur, not to be witnesses. The parties having exchanged salutations, the seconds measured the distance of ten paces, loaded the pistols, made the other preliminary arrangements, and placed the combatants. At the appointed signal, Burr took deliberate aim and fired. The ball entered Hamilton's side, and as he fell, his pistol too was unconsciously discharged. Burr approached him, apparently somewhat moved, but on the suggestion of his second, the surgeon and bargemen already approaching, he turned and hastened away, Van Ness coolly covering him from their sight by opening an umbrella. The surgeon found Hamilton half lying, half sitting on the ground, supported in the arms of his second. The pallor of death was on his face. "Doctor," he said, "this is a mortal wound;" and, as if overcome by the effort of speaking, he swooned quite away. As he was carried across the river the fresh breeze revived him. His own house being in the country, he was conveyed at once to the house of a friend, where he lingered for twenty-four  hours in great agony, but preserving his composure and self-command to the last.

The melancholy event of the duel affected the whole country, and New-York in particular, with the deepest indignation and grief. The avenues to the house where Hamilton was carried before he expired, were thronged with anxious citizens. His funeral was celebrated by a mournful pageant, and an oration in Trinity Church by Governeur Morris, which stirred up the people like the speech of Antony over the corpse of Caesar, to a "sudden flood of mutiny." Burr, with an indictment for murder hanging over him, fled secretly from the city to the South, where he remained until the excitement had in a measure subsided. His wretched end, and the place which history has assigned to him, leave room at present for no other emotions save those of regret and pity. In the deep gloom which the death of Hamilton occasioned, his political opponents almost equally shared. In contemplating his character they seemed to catch some portion of his own magnanimity, and the animosities of which he had been so conspicuous an object, were swallowed up in the conviction that a great and irreparable loss had fallen equally upon all.

There was not, we think, at that time, a life which might not have been better spared than that of Hamilton. Certainly no man represented so well as he, the character and the principles of Washington; and no man was gifted with an array of qualities which better fitted him either as a magistrate or a man to control aright the opinions and the actions of a people like that of the United States. He was a man "built up on every side." He had received from nature a most  capacious and admirable intellect, which had been exercised and developed by deep study and large experience in the practical conduct of affairs. His education was like that which Milton describes as "fitting to a man to perform justly, skilfully and magnanimously, all the offices, both public and private, of peace and war." His opinions were definite and fixed; were held with the confidence which is the result of complete conviction; and came from him recommended by a powerful eloquence, and a persuasive fairness and magnanimity. The strength of his passions gave him an almost unbounded influence over the minds of others, which he never perverted to selfish purposes or unworthy ends.

A lofty integrity was one of the most prominent traits of his character. It was not, as in his great contemporary Jay, clothed with the appearance of austerity, nor did it, perhaps, so much as in the latter spring from a constant and habitual sense of responsibility to a Supreme Being; but it was rather a rare and noble elevation of soul, the spontaneous development of a nature which could not harbor a base or unworthy motive, cherished indeed and fortified by a firm faith and a strong religious temperament. It was this which enabled him to spend so long a period of his life in the public service in the exercise of the most important public trusts—among them that of the Treasury department, with the whole financial arrangements of the country under his control, and come from it all without a stain or a suspicion. His character for uprightness might be presented as an example in illustration of the fine precept of Horace:

——Hic murus aheneus esto
Nil conscire sibi, nulla pallescere culpa.

 Political hostility and private malice explored every corner of his life with the hope of fixing a stain upon his official integrity; but these miserable attempts had no other effect than to bring defeat and disgrace on the authors of them. His honesty was as conspicuous in his private as in his public career, and was indeed sometimes carried to an extent which we fear might seem in our times like an absurd refinement. When about to enter upon his duties as Secretary of the Treasury, he was applied to by some friends engaged in monetary transactions for information with respect to the policy which he proposed to pursue, the disclosure of which would perhaps promote their interests, and not injure those of the public. But this he utterly refused to give, holding it as inconsistent with his duty as a public servant, to make his office even the indirect means of contributing to the emolument of friends by imparting to them information which was not open to all alike. While at the bar, and practising only as counsellor, he was associated with the Messrs. Ogden, who were then leading members of the profession in New-York city, and he received only the retaining and trial fees, though his reputation brought to the office a large proportion of all the important suits which arose. It was proposed to him to form a connection with other attorneys, by which engagement he might receive a portion of the attorney's fees in addition; but this offer he at once rejected, saying that he could not consent to receive any compensation for services not his own, or for the character of which he was not responsible.

In his disposition he was one of the most amiable and attractive of men; and though capable of strong indignation, which made him always respected and sometimes feared by his adversaries, he was yet of such a mild and placable temper that no man could be long and sincerely his enemy. In person he was rather below the average height, his form was well proportioned, and his manner dignified and conciliating. The lower features of his countenance were regular and handsome, and beaming with the warm affections and generous sentiments of his heart. His brow and forehead were of a massive cast, expressive of the commanding intellect which lay behind. He was fond of society, full of the most lively and various conversation, which made him the delight and ornament of every circle he entered. During his time the Supreme Court used to hold its terms at New-York and Albany alternately, and the bar was then obliged to follow it back and forth between those cities, the journey occupying at that time three or four days. Of course this was a season of hilarity, and upon such occasions Hamilton was the life of the party, sometimes charming the whole company by his ingenious and eloquent discussions of the various subjects of conversation, and at others calling forth shouts of laughter by his pointed and genial wit. An anecdote has been related to us by one who was present on the occasion, which well illustrates the power which lay in his fascinating manner and conversation. During the hostilities between France and England, which succeeded the revolution in the former country, a French man of war having on board Jerome Bonaparte, the brother of Napoleon, and afterwards king of Westphalia, was chased into the harbor of New-York by two English frigates. It was during the visit which Jerome was thus compelled to make to this country, that he became acquainted with and married the beautiful Miss Patterson, of Baltimore. The  genius and the fortunes of Napoleon were then for the first time astonishing the world, and caused Jerome to be received with the most extraordinary marks of attention in the different cities of the United States. While he was in New-York Hamilton made a dinner party for him, to which a number of the chief personages of the time were invited. He was then living at "Grange," and, as it happened, upon the very day of the party was engaged in the argument of an important cause in the city, which detained him there until after the hour for which his guests were invited. A long delay ensued after the company had assembled, and the embarrassment of Mrs. Hamilton may be imagined. There was evidently a feeling of uneasiness and discontent springing up in the minds of the guests, and especially was this the case with the distinguished brother of the First Consul. He was affected with the usual sensitiveness of a novus homo upon the point of etiquette, and it seemed to pass his comprehension how a man of Hamilton's private and official eminence should be engaged in any of the ordinary pursuits of life, and especially that such concerns, or any concerns whatever, should be allowed to detain him a single moment from the society of his guests, one of whom had the honor to be no less a person than Jerome Bonaparte. At a late hour, after the quality of the dinner and the temper of the guests had become about equally impaired, Hamilton arrived. He was met by his desponding wife, and informed of the distressing predicament which his delay had occasioned. After making a hasty toilet, he entered the drawing-room, and found that the affair indeed wore a most perilous aspect. The appearance of the distinguished Frenchman was especially unpromising. But Hamilton was quite  equal to the emergency. Gracefully apologizing for his tardiness, he at once entered into a most animated and eloquent conversation, drew out his different guests with admirable dexterity, and enlisted them with one another, and especially recommended himself to the late Miss Patterson by a lively chat in French, of which language he was a master. The discontented features of the Bonaparte began to relax, and it soon became evident that he was in the most amiable mood, and one of the most gratified of the party. The dinner passed off admirably, and it seemed to be generally conceded that the delay in the beginning was amply atoned for by the delightful entertainment which followed.

We should do injustice to one of the most amiable traits of Hamilton's character if we omitted particularly to notice the strength and tenderness of his friendships. Incapable of treachery, free from all disguise, and imbued with the largest sympathies, he drew to himself the esteem and affection of all who knew him; and such was his admiration for noble and generous qualities, that he could not see them displayed without clasping their possessors to his heart. He was a general favorite in the army, and between some of the choicest spirits in it and himself, there was an almost romantic affection. Those that knew him best loved him most. The family of Washington were as dear to him as if they were kindred by blood. Meade, McHenry, Tilghman, the "Old Secretary," Harrison, and the generous and high-souled Laurens, were in every change of fortune his cherished and bosom friends. The following extract from a letter to Laurens, shows the nature of Hamilton's attachment. "Cold in my professions, warm in my friendships, I wish my dear Laurens it were in my power, by actions rather than by words, to convince you that I love you. I shall only tell you that till you bid us adieu, I hardly knew the value you had taught my heart to set upon you. Indeed, my friend, it were not well done. You know the opinion I entertain of mankind; and how much it is my desire to preserve myself free from particular attachments, and to keep my happiness free from the caprices of others. You should not have taken advantage of my sensibility to steal into my affections, without my consent." The openness of his heart and the flexibility of his manners made him a great favorite with the French officers. Lafayette loved him as a brother, and in one of his letters to him thus writes: "I know the General's (Washington's) friendship and gratitude for you, my dear Hamilton; both are greater than you perhaps imagine. I am sure he needs only to be told that something will suit you, and when he thinks he can do it, he certainly will. Before this campaign I was your friend, and very intimate friend, agreeably to the ideas of the world; since my second voyage, my sentiment has increased to such a point the world knows nothing about. To show both, from want and from scorn of expression, I shall only tell you, adieu." Talleyrand, the celebrated minister of Napoleon, whatever may be said of the character of his diplomacy, had a heart that was capable of friendship, and while in this country conceived a particular fondness for Hamilton, and on his departure for France he took from the house of the latter, without permission, a miniature belonging to Mrs. Hamilton of her husband. When fairly out of reach he addressed a note to Mrs. Hamilton confessing the larceny, and excusing it on the ground that he wanted a copy of it, but knew that she would not let him take the original away to be copied if he had made the request. He had an excellent copy of the miniature taken upon Sevres china, which he always kept in a conspicuous place in his apartment until late in life, when he presented it with a lock of his hair to a son of Hamilton, James A. Hamilton Esq., of Dobb's Ferry, N.Y., who still retains it. The indignation of Talleyrand at the conduct of Burr in bringing about the melancholy duel was unbounded; and when Burr, subsequently to that event, was on a visit to France, he wrote a note to Talleyrand, requesting the privilege of paying him a visit. Of course the French minister could not refuse this favor to a man who had been Vice-President of the United States, and in other respects so eminent a person; but his answer was something like this: "The Minister of Foreign Affairs would be happy to see Col. Burr at—(naming the hour); but M. Talleyrand thinks it due to Col. Burr to state, that he always has the miniature of General Hamilton hanging over his mantel-piece."

In contemplating the life of Hamilton, it is of course impossible not to feel the deepest regret that so much genius, so much usefulness, and so much promise, should have been so prematurely cut off. Great as was his actual performance, it is natural and reasonable to suppose that the results of his youth and early manhood would have been far eclipsed by those of his splendid maturity. But as it is, "he lived long enough for glory." The influence of his presence and manners, the excitements in which he mingled when alive—every thing which tends to give a fictitious importance to present greatness, have passed away. But his reputation, which some have thought to rest upon these very circumstances, stands unaffected by their decay,—a fact which sufficiently attests the enduring nature of his fame.