Fisher Ames by James B. Thayer

 The house in which Fisher Ames was born was pulled down somewhere about 1818. It used to stand on the main street of Dedham, a little to the northeast, and over the way from where the court-house now stands. It was a roomy, two-story, peaked-roofed old building, with its end to the street; the oldest part having an addition of more modern construction on the front, or what, with reference to the street, was the end. The rooms were low, the windows small, and the lower floor was sunken a little below the ground. A large buttonwood overshadowed it in front, and from behind an elm, the latter still standing. There was no fence between the house and the street, and the intervening space was covered with grass of that thick and stubbed growth peculiar to such localities. Behind was a large barn, while on both sides, and back for fifty or sixty rods, to the Charles River, stretched a broad field of irregular surface. Just across the street was the "Front Lot," a piece of unoccupied land, including that on which the court-house now stands, and extending east nearly as far as the post-office. On the corner of this lot, directly in front of the house stood, subsequently,—that is, to the year 1776, when it was erected,—a stone pillar supporting a  column, surmounted by a wooden head of Pitt, the same having been set up by the "Sons of Liberty," a brother of Fisher Ames among the number, on the repeal of the Stamp Act. This structure, after testifying to America's gratitude for a number of years, and furnishing to the corner on which it stood, the name of "Pitt's Head," was eventually overthrown. The stone pillar with its glowing inscription, after lying awhile by the roadside, and offering a seat to chatting children, and a place, in the spaces of the letters, for cracking nuts, was at length set up in its old place, on the erection of the court-house some twenty-five years since, where it still stands. But of the fate of the column and the head we have no account. This wooden head, intended by its enthusiastic raisers, without a doubt, to be "śre perennius," lay kicking about the street; and perhaps found refuge at last from the vicissitudes of the weather and the wasting jack-knife of the schoolboy, in the wood-box or the garret of some hospitable patriot.

The old house was long kept as an inn, both by Dr. Nathaniel Ames, the father of Fisher, and, after his death, by his wife. Innkeeping in those days was not so engrossing an occupation as at present, and Dr. Ames, by no means mainly a Boniface, found time for the care of his farm, for the practice of his profession, for the study of mathematics, astronomy, and kindred subjects; and for the application of the knowledge thus acquired, in the making of almanacs; a business which he carried on for forty years. In their veracious pages, besides indicating the doings and intentions of the heavenly bodies, and predicting storms with all the accuracy of which the case was susceptible, Dr. Ames used to portray the exciting events of the time in verse, more patriotic and vivid, perhaps, than poetic. He was, in truth, a man of no small consideration in Dedham, of much natural ability, of wit and spirit.

He showed these last qualities once on a time, when the colonial judges decided some law case against him. He thought they had disregarded the law, and their Reverences were soon seen, sketched on a sign-board in front of the tavern, in full bottomed wigs, tippling, with their backs to the volume labelled "The Province Law." The authorities at Boston taking umbrage at this, dispatched some officers to Dedham to remove the sign. But Dr. Ames was too quick for them; and the baffled tipstaves on reaching the house found nothing hanging but a board, on which was inscribed, "A wicked and adulterous generation seeketh for a sign, but no sign shall be given them."

Dr. Ames died in 1764, when his son Fisher, the youngest child, was six years old; having besides him, a son of his own name and profession, who was afterwards a violent democrat and opponent of Fisher Ames, two other sons and a daughter. Of these, Fisher was the only one who left descendants. Mrs. Ames continued to keep the inn, and married again. She was a very shrewd and sensible woman, of a strong and singular cast of mind. She took a hearty interest in politics, and hated the Jacobins devoutly. Innkeeping was a favorite occupation with her, and she carried matters with a high hand. We have heard her compared to Meg Dods, the landlady in St. Ronan's Well. She outlived her son Fisher some ten years or more.

Fisher Ames was a delicate child, and the pet of his mother, whose maiden name he bore. He had such an extravagant fondness for books, devouring all that fell within his reach, and showed, in other ways, to the fond perception of his parent, such unmistakable signs of genius, that she early determined to make a lawyer of him, and put him to the study of Latin at six. The little fellow worked bravely at his lessons for six years, reciting sometimes to the school-teacher, when that functionary happened to be more than usually learned, sometimes to old Mr. Haven the minister, with whom he early made friends, and to various other persons. In 1770, twelve years old, he was admitted to Harvard College. Here he spent four years with credit and success, acquiring greater distinction in the study of the languages and in oratory, than in the abstract sciences. He was conspicuous, even at this early age, as a speaker, being one of the leading members of a society for improvement in eloquence, then newly established. This society, under the style of "The Institute of 1770," is still flourishing at Cambridge, and turns out annually as many orators, perhaps, as any similar body in our country. The writer of this remembers to have heard there, in his own college days, a great deal of sublime elocution. Fisher Ames's name occurs on the records a number of times, as a speaker, and a critic, and once as follows: "June, 1, 1773.—Voted, that Ames, Clarke, and Eliot, be fined 4 pence for tardiness." Young Ames passed through college with unblemished morals. "Happily," in the elegant phrase of his biographer, "he did not need the smart of guilt to make him virtuous, nor the regret of folly to make him wise."

In the summer of 1774, he returned to his mother's house. Notwithstanding her predilection for law, he had some idea of studying medicine or divinity. But, the year of the Boston Port Bill was no good time for deciding upon a course of life, or beginning it when determined on. Besides, Fisher Ames was but sixteen, and his mother was poor. For a short time, therefore, he engaged in teaching school; and, after a few years spent in desultory but unceasing study and reading, he began law in the office of Wm. Tudor, of Boston.

During this time the contest was going on in which his country's liberties were involved, and young Ames was a watchful and anxious observer of its progress. It was at his mother's house that the good men of Dedham used to meet, to see what they and the country were to do. Only a month or two after his return from college, a convention from all the towns of Suffolk county, of which Dedham was then a part, met here to deliberate. We can imagine the heart of our boy of sixteen burning within him, and his eye flashing as he heard the outraged citizens of Boston tell their grievances, and as he longed to be a man, that he might take a part with those determined patriots in their resolution to try the issue with Great Britain, if need be, at the point of the sword. Dedham sent some brave soldiers to the service, and Fisher Ames, young as he was, went out in one or two short expeditions.

In 1781 we find him entered upon the practice of law at Dedham, where he soon became distinguished as an advocate. In those days the manners of the bench were very rough. The road to eminence in law seemed often to lie between rows of semi-barbarous judges, who hurled at aspiring barristers every missile of abuse. There is always much, it is true, in the deportment of young lawyers to vex the temper of a judge, and perhaps in those days of callow independence there may have been more than common. There appears to be something  about that great science to which, in the language of Hooker, "all things in heaven and earth do homage, the least as feeling her care, and the greatest as not exempted from her bounty," that breathes unusual dignity into its servants, especially its young ones. In its various duties, the giving of counsel, the questioning of witnesses, and the frequent display of capacity before courts and juries, the seeds of vanity find propitious soil and start into rank growth. From this or whatever cause, the judges of old times were crusty and abusive; and old Judge Paine, besides being all this, was moreover deaf, and used to berate counsel roundly at times for what was no fault of theirs. "I tell you what," said Fisher Ames, as he came out of court one day, "a man, when he enters that court-room, ought to go armed with a speaking trumpet in one hand and a club in the other." At another time, Ames expressed a rather derogatory opinion of the intelligence of the court. He was arguing a case before a number of county justices, and having finished, turned to leave the room. "Ain't you going to say any thing more, Mr. Ames?" anxiously whispered his client. "No," rejoined Ames; "you might as well argue a case to a row of skim-milk cheeses!" Perhaps his dislike to these dignitaries may have been an inheritance. May not the old Doctor, in his indignation about the Province Law matter, like another Hamilcar, have made his son, a youthful Hannibal, swear eternal hatred to his foes?

Mr. Ames was now a rapidly rising man. Various essays on political subjects from his pen appeared in the newspapers, and contributed to draw public attention to him. When quite young, he was sent to a convention held at Concord, to consider the depreciated state of the currency, where he made  an eloquent speech. In 1788, he was a member of the convention for ratifying the federal constitution. Here he added much to his fame by a number of excellent speeches. One on the biennial election of representatives was considered the best, and is the only one given in his works. It is lucid, statesmanlike, and eloquent. The occasion of it was an inquiry by Samuel Adams, why representatives were not made elective annually. To this Ames alludes in the closing paragraph: "As it has been demanded why annual elections were not preferred to biennial, permit me to retort the question, and to inquire, in my turn, what reason can be given why, if annual elections are good, biennial elections are not better?" Adams professed himself entirely satisfied. This same year Ames represented Dedham in the legislature.

In 1789, Suffolk county sent him as her first representative to Congress, in opposition to Samuel Adams. He was in Congress eight years, during the whole of Washington's administration, and was one of the most prominent leaders of the federal party, giving to the President uniform and important support. In this period, he acquired a reputation for candor, integrity, ability, and eloquence, second to that of no man in Congress. At times, particularly towards the end of his term, ill-health compelled his absence; yet he examined with care every important question that presented itself, and spoke upon almost every one. But of his numerous efforts in Congress, only two are printed among his works, one on certain resolutions of Madison's for imposing additional duties on foreign goods, delivered in 1794, and the speech on Jay's treaty, two years later, his most brilliant effort, "an era," says his biographer,  "in his political life." This speech was written out from memory by Judge Smith and Samuel Dexter, receiving a revision from Ames. It is thus alluded to by Hildreth: "He (Ames) had been detained from the House during the early part of the session, by an access of that disorder which made all the latter part of his life one long disease. Rising from his seat, pale, feeble, hardly able to stand or to speak, but warming with the subject, he delivered a speech which, for comprehensive knowledge of human nature and of the springs of political action, for caustic ridicule, keen argument, and pathetic eloquence, even in the imperfect shape in which we possess it, has very seldom been equalled on that or any other floor." The question was to have been taken that same day, but one of the opposition moved that it be postponed till the next, that they should not act under the influence of an excitement of which their calm judgment might not approve.

After reducing the question to one of breaking the public faith, the speaker adds: "This, sir, is a cause that would be dishonored and betrayed, if I contented myself with appealing only to the understanding. It is too cold, and its processes are too slow for the occasion. I desire to thank God that, since he has given me an intellect so fallible, he has impressed upon me an instinct that is sure. On a question of shame and dishonor, reasoning is sometimes useless, and worse. I feel the decision in my pulse; if it throws no light upon the brain, it kindles a fire at the heart." It is the spirit that breathes in this splendid burst that stirred the minds of the hearers, wearied and disgusted with a discussion of nearly two months, so that, in the blunt language of John Adams— "there wasn't a dry eye in the House, except some of the jackasses that occasioned the necessity of the oratory."

Ames's speeches show great clearness of mind and power of reasoning, and have about them an air of candor that induces conviction. He brought to every subject on which he was to speak, that thorough understanding of it, in which, if we may believe Socrates, lies the secret of all eloquence. It appears to have been customary with him to wait till a question had undergone some discussion, that he might the better appreciate the arguments on both sides. He would then rise, and disperse, as with the wand of Prospero, the mists of prejudice and sophistry that had gathered over the question in the course of debate, while he placed the subject before the House with convincing eloquence and precision. His well-stored mind poured forth illustrations at every step, and his imagination illuminated each point on which he touched. Now and then it would light up into a pure and steady blaze as he dwelt on some topic that stirred his deepest emotions, and transfigured it in apt and nervous language. In this union of imagination and feeling, making every period glow with life, with logical power, Ames resembled Chatham.

He was not in the habit of trusting to notes, but used to think out a sketch of what he was to say, and trust for the rest to the inspiration of the occasion. At first his manner was slow and hesitating, like one in reflection; but as he went on, his thoughts and his language flowed fast, and his face beamed with expression. We have heard his manner characterized by one who had frequent opportunities of hearing him, in the words of Antenor's description of Ulysses:

"But when Ulyssus rose, in thought profound,
His modest eyes he fixed upon the ground,
As one unskilled, or drunk, he seemed to stand,
Nor raised his head nor stretched his sceptred hand;
But when he speaks, what elocution flows!
Soft as the fleeces of descending snows,
The copious accents fall, with easy art;
Melting they fall and sink into the heart!"

His voice is described as rich and melodious. His personal appearance is thus given by Wm. Sullivan: "He was above middle stature, and well-formed. His features were not strongly marked. His forehead was neither high nor expansive. His eyes blue, and of middling size; his mouth handsome; his hair was black, and short on the forehead, and in his latter years unpowdered. He was very erect, and when speaking he raised his head; or rather his chin was the most projected part of his face." Before a jury he was very effective. There was nothing bitter or sarcastic in his manner; but mild, cool, and candid, it made a jury, as we heard it expressed, "want to give him the case, if they could." He is contrasted with his friend Samuel Dexter, as preferring to illustrate by a picture, while Dexter would explain by a diagram.

Mr. Ames was the author of the "Address of the House of Representatives to Washington," on his signifying his intention to withdraw from office. His own health had been, and was still so feeble, that he could not stand for re-election. Accordingly, he retired to Dedham in March, 1797, intending to devote himself, as far as possible, to the practice of his profession and the enjoyment of domestic happiness.

In July 1792, Mr. Ames had married Miss Worthington, of Springfield. This marriage was an exceedingly happy one. Mrs. Ames was much beloved and respected by her neighbors, and, in her sphere, was considered as remarkable as her husband. She was a woman of gentle and retiring disposition, devoted to her family, kind, motherly and sensible. Mr. Ames seems to have found in her a companion who called forth and appreciated all those amiable qualities which were a part of his character. She took a good deal of interest in public affairs, and was a woman of cultivated mind. She survived her husband, and died some sixteen years since, at the age of seventy-four. They had seven children, six sons and a daughter. The daughter died young and unmarried, of consumption. Three of the sons are now living, one in Dedham, one in Cambridge, and another somewhere at the West. All the children however survived their father.

Previous to his marriage Mr. Ames had lived with his mother. After that event he moved to Boston and took a house on Beacon Street, next to Governor Bowdoin's. He appears to have lived here about two years, when he returned to Dedham, and began the building of a new house. This house was finished and occupied by the winter of 1795; during the interval Mr. Ames lived in a house opposite the old mansion now occupied by the Dedham Gazette. This new house of Ames's is still standing in Dedham, externally much the same as of old; a large square-built, two-story house, flat-roofed, simple and substantial. Internally, however, together with the ground about it, it has undergone many alterations. Formerly it had not the piazza now in front of it, and the various chimneys were then represented by one fat, old-fashioned, solid structure in the middle. It passed out of the hands of the family about 1835, and is at present owned by Mr. John Gardiner.

 Mr. Ames seems to have inherited most of the old homestead, to the extent of twenty-five acres, on which he built his house, facing the south, a little to the east, and back of his mother's. He employed himself a good deal henceforth in the cultivation of his farm. The "Front Lot" was surrounded with a rail fence and a row of Lombardy poplars, and was used at different times as a mowing lot, a cornfield, and a pasture for the cows. On the east side of the house, extending in length from the street to the river, and in width from directly under the windows, far enough to include a street and a row of small houses, since constructed, was a pasture and orchard including seven or eight acres, and stocked with the best fruit. Directly back of the house was the garden, a long and rather barren strip of land, of peculiar surface. Two straight walks went from the house the whole length of it. At the farther end of it was a low oval space, with a walk running around it, and a pond in the middle. All this part of the garden was low, and surrounded at the sides and end with a bank, in the form of an amphitheatre. Three or four terraces lay between it and the higher ground. These and the oval space with its walk, still remain, but the fence between the garden and the orchard has been removed, and the two straight walks somewhat changed, to suit the modern appetite for grace. The place is still full of the fruit-trees that Fisher Ames planted, some crossgrained pear-trees, and venerable cherries being the chief. The boys used to look over in this orchard and garden, at the big pears, weighing down the trees and covering the ground, as if it were the very garden of the Hesperides, and the dragon were asleep. Once in a while the gates would be thrown open to these hungry longers, and they  helped themselves; when winter came too the pond afforded them a capital skating place. A large shed ran out from the back of the house, on the west end, used, among other purposes, as a granary. To the west and back of this, was the barn of the old house, and a large new one built by Mr. Ames, and behind the latter, the ice-house, in those days quite a novelty. Back of this was an open field. On the west side of the house, a flight of steps led from one of the lower windows down the bank, with an old pear-tree growing through it.

The house stood about two rods from the street; a semi-elliptical walk led up to the door, and two horse-chestnuts grew in the yard. There were but few trees near the house, for Mr. Ames liked the light and the fresh air. He planted a great many shade trees however on the street, and some of the fine old elms about the common were set out with his own hands. The front door opened into a large room, which took up the whole southwestern end, used as a hall, and on occasion of those large dinner parties so common among men of Mr. Ames's class, in those days, as a dining-room. At such times this was thrown into one with the adjoining front room, a large apartment, with a big fireplace, commonly used as a parlor. Back of this was the library overlooking the garden. The southeastern end was Mr. Ames's favorite one. His chamber, that in which he died, was here, on the second story. Below stairs, was a cellar kitchen, and a dairy; this last quite a magnificent matter, with marble flagging, and ice bestowed around in summer, for coolness.

From the bank at the end of the garden, Mr. Ames's land covered with fruit-trees, sloped gracefully to the water. Charles River is here only twenty or thirty feet wide, and winds with a tranquil current through a narrow meadow; not as broad, but brighter and clearer than where at Cambridge it calls forth the admiring apostrophe of the poet. It is only a short way below this where Mother Brook issues from the Charles, flowing towards the east, and joining it with the Neponset, and making an island of all the intervening region, which embraces Boston, Roxbury, and Dorchester. This singular stream, though its banks are wooded with venerable trees, and it is in all respects like one of nature's own, is nevertheless an artificial course of water. And what is very remarkable, it was constructed by the Puritan settlers, only three years after their arrival in 1639, when there could not have been a hundred men in the place. They were in want of a flow of water for mill purposes, and accordingly dug a canal a mile in length, from the Charles eastwardly. Here the land descended, and the water, left to its own course, wound in graceful curves to the Neponset. There are still a number of mills on this stream. This achievement of Young America, considering his extreme youth at the time, amounting in fact to infancy, was not unworthy of his subsequent exploits.

After returning from Congress, Mr. Ames passed a life of almost unbroken retirement. In 1798 he was appointed commissioner to the Cherokees, an office he was obliged to refuse. In 1800 he was a member of the Governor's Council, and in the same year delivered a eulogy on Washington, before the Legislature. He was chosen in 1805, President of Harvard College, but ill health, and a disinclination to change his habits of life, led him to decline the honor.

He had also resumed the practice of his profession with ardor, but the state of his health compelled him gradually to drop it; and towards the close of his life, he was glad to throw it aside altogether. Mr. Ames was not much of a traveller, though getting back and forth between Dedham and Philadelphia, which he used to do in his own conveyance, was no small matter in those days. He visited among his acquaintances in the neighborhood, at Christopher Gore's in Waltham, at George Cabot's in Brookline, and at Salem, where Timothy Pickering and others of his friends resided. He was also in the habit of driving to Boston in his gig two or three times a week, when his health permitted, and passing the day. But he took few long journeys. We hear of him at Newport in 1795, in Virginia visiting the mineral springs for his health, in the following year, and in Connecticut in 1800; and he speaks in one of his letters of "jingling his bells as far as Springfield" as a matter of common occurrence. His wife's relations lived there, among others the husband of her sister, Mr. Thomas Dwight, at whose house Mr. Ames was a frequent guest.

Ames, like so many of the best statesmen of that time, and of all time, appears to have always had a relish for farming. In a letter written at Philadelphia in 1796, while groaning over his ill health, which makes him "the survivor of himself, or rather the troubled ghost of a politician compelled to haunt the field of battle where he fell," he says, "I almost wish Adams was here, and I at home sorting squash and pumpkin seeds for planting." The latter part of the wish was soon to be realized, but not till this survivor of himself had outdone all the efforts of his former life, and risen like a Phœnix in his splendid speech on the Treaty. He frequently wrote essays on agricultural subjects, and into many  of his political articles similes and illustrations found their way, smelling of the farm. He had an especial fondness for raising fruit trees, and for breeding calves and pigs. All the best kinds of fruit were found in his orchard, experiments were tried on new kinds of grass, and improvements undertaken in the cultivation of crops. A piggery was attached to the barn, conducted on scientific principles, and furnished with the best stock. New breeds of cattle were introduced, and cows were kept with a view both to the sale of milk, and to the sale of their young. The produce of the farm used to be sent to Boston in a market wagon. For the carrying on of this establishment, Mr. Ames kept some half a dozen men. He himself was able to do but little active service. His disease was called by the physicians marasmus, a wasting away of the vital powers, a sort of consumption, not merely of the lungs, but of the stomach and every thing else. This, while it produced fits of languor and depression, and had something to do probably with his excessive anxiety on political subjects, never seemed to take from the cheerfulness of his manners. He was obliged to practise a rigid system of temperance, and to take a good deal of exercise, in horseback riding and other ways. Besides the society of his family, a constant source of happiness, he used to solace himself with the company of his friends, with writing letters, and with reading his favorite authors. History and poetry he was especially fond of. Shakspeare, Milton, and Pope's Homer he read throughout his life, and during his last year, re-read Virgil, Tacitus and Livy, in the original, with much delight.

His friends were frequently invited out to partake of his "farmer's fare," and rare occasions those must have been, when such men as Theophilus Parsons, and Pickering, and Gore, and Samuel Dexter, and George Cabot were met together, with now and then one from a greater distance. Hamilton or Gouverneur Morris, or Sedgwick, or Judge Smith; while at the head of the table sat Fisher Ames himself, delighting every one by his humor, and his unrivalled powers of conversation. In conversation, he surpassed all the men of his time; even Morris, who was celebrated as a talker, used to be struck quite dumb at his side. His quick fancy and exuberant humor, his brilliant power of expression, his acquaintance with literature and affairs, and his genial and sunny disposition, used to show themselves on such occasions to perfection. His conversation, like his letters, was mainly upon political topics, though now and then, agriculture or literature, or the common news of the day was introduced. When dining once with some Southern gentlemen in Boston, General Pinckney among the number, after an animated conversation at the table, just as Ames was leaving the room, somebody asked him a question. Ames walked on until he reached the door, when, turning round and resting his elbow on the sideboard, he replied in a strain of such eloquence and beauty that the company confessed they had no idea of his powers before. Judge Smith, his room-mate in Philadelphia, stated, that when he was so sick as to be confined to his bed, he would sometimes get up and converse with friends who came to see him, by the hour, and then go back to his bed completely exhausted. His friends in Boston used to seize upon him when he drove in town, and "tire him down," as he expressed it, so that when he got back to Dedham, he wanted to roll like a tired horse.

 Ames wrote a good many newspaper essays. This was a habit which he always kept up, particularly after his retirement. About 1800, on the election of Jefferson, he was very active in starting a Federal paper in Boston, the Palladium, and wrote for it constantly. He had great fears for his country from the predominance of French influence, and deemed it the duty of a patriot to enlighten his countrymen on the character and tendency of political measures. His biographer informs us that these essays were the first drafts, and they appear as such. The language is appropriate and often very felicitous, but they are diffuse and not always systematic. There is considerable argument in them, but more of explanation, appeal and ornament. He wrote to set facts before the people, and to urge them to vigilance and activity; and his essays are in fact so many written addresses. They cost him no labor in their composition, being on subjects that he was constantly revolving in his mind. They used to be written whenever he found a spare moment and a scrap of paper, while stopping at a tavern, at the printing office in Boston, or while waiting for his horse; and are apparently expressed just as they would have been if he were speaking impromptu. We have heard him characterized by one of his old friends as essentially a poet; but it would be more correct to say, that he was altogether an orator. He had indeed the characteristics of an orator in a rare degree, and these show themselves in every thing he does. While his mind was clear and his powers of reasoning were exceedingly good, imagination, the instinctive perception of analogies, and feeling predominated. His writings do not justify his fame; yet viewed as what they really are, the unlabored transcripts of his thoughts, they are  remarkable. The flow of language, the wit, the wealth and aptness of illustration, the clearness of thought, show an informed and superior mind. They have here and there profound observations, that show an acquaintance with the principles of government and with the human heart, and are full of testimonials to the purity of the author's patriotism, and the goodness of his heart.

Besides the essays that are published among his works, he wrote many others perhaps equally good, as well as numerous short, keen paragraphs, adapted to the time, but not suitable for republication. He also wrote verses occasionally, among others "an Ode by Jefferson" to the ship that was to bring Tom Paine from France, in imitation of Horace's to the vessel that was to bear Virgil from Athens.

He wrote a great many letters, and it is in these that we are presented with the finest view of his character. They are full of sensible remarks on contemporary news and events, and sparkle with wit of that slipshod and easy sort, most delightful in letters, while in grace of style they surpass most of the correspondence of that period. The public has already been informed that the correspondence of Fisher Ames, together with other writings, and some notice of his life, is in course of publication by one of his sons, Mr. Seth Ames of Cambridge. But few of his letters were published in his works, as issued in 1809; a few more appeared in Judge Smith's life, and some twenty in Gibbs's "Administration of Washington and Adams," but these bear but a very small proportion to his whole correspondence. Within a short time as many as one hundred and fifty letters have been found in Springfield, written to Mr. Dwight, of various dates from 1790 to 1807. A large number are said to have disappeared, that were in the hands of George Cabot, and some were burned among the papers of President Kirkland. For a delightful specimen of Mr. Ames' familiar letters, the reader is referred to page 89 of that capital biography, the "Life of Judge Smith."

Mr. Ames was a man of great urbanity among his neighbors. It was his custom to converse a good deal with ignorant persons and those remote from civil affairs. He was desirous to see how such persons looked at political questions, and often found means in this way of correcting his own views. He was a great favorite among the servants, and used to sit down in the kitchen sometimes and talk with them.

He attended the Congregational church at Dedham, and took a good deal of interest in its affairs. On one occasion he invited out a number of friends to attend an installation. But about 1797, on the minister's insisting upon certain high Calvinistic doctrines, Mr. Ames left, and always went, after that, to the Episcopal church. A certain good old orthodox lady remarked to him one day, after he left their church, that she supposed, if they had a nice new meeting-house, he would come back. "No, madam," rejoined Ames, "if you had a church of silver, and were to line it with gold, and give me the best seat in it, I should go to the Episcopal." Though a man of strong religious feelings, he was nothing of a sectarian, and did not fully agree with the Episcopal views. He was a friend of Dr. Channing, who visited him in his last illness, and he ought probably to be reckoned in the same class of Christians with that eminent clergyman. He was very fond of the Psalms, and used to repeat the beautiful hymn of Watts, "Up to the hills I lift mine eyes." The Christmas of 1807, the year before his death, he had his house decked with green, a favourite custom with him.

He died at the age of fifty, on the fourth of July 1808, at five o'clock in the morning, leaving to his family a comfortable property. The news of his death was carried at once to Boston, and Andrew Ritchie, the city orator for that day, alluded to it in this extempore burst: "But, alas! the immortal Ames, who, like Ithuriel, was commissioned to discover the insidious foe, has, like Ithuriel, accomplished his embassy, and on this morning of our independence has ascended to Heaven. Spirit of Demosthenes, couldst thou have been a silent and invisible auditor, how wouldst thou have been delighted to hear from his lips, those strains of eloquence which once from thine, enchanted the assemblies of Greece!" Ames' friends in Boston requested his body for the celebration of funeral rites. It was attended by a large procession from the house of Christopher Gore to King's Chapel, where an oration was pronounced by Samuel Dexter. It was afterwards deposited in the family tomb at Dedham, whence it was removed a few years since, and buried by the side of his wife and children. A plain white monument marks the spot, in the old Dedham grave-yard, behind the Episcopal church, with the simple inscription "Fisher Ames."