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In December of the same year, the army marched to Valley Forge, and took up their winter quarters in log huts, which they erected at that place.
Before this, the congress, then sitting at Yorktown in Pennsylvania, had elected Colonel Picker. ing a member of the continental board of war. General Gates and General Mifflin were elected members of the same board, and before the expiration of the winter, they all repaired to Yorktown, where the board sat.
Washington, has just transmitted me a plan for conducting the quarter master's department, agreed to in congress, the fifteenth instant, wherein I am continued as quarter master general, and directed to make the necessary appointments in the department, agreeably thereto, as soon as possible.
It was my intention, from the peculiar circumstances of our own affairs-and I have long since communicated it to the commander-inchief, and the committee of con gress-to have continued to exercise the office of quarter master general, during the active part of this campaign, provided matters were left upon such a footing as to enable me to conduct the business to satisfaction; and in order to remove every shadow of suspicion that might induce a belief that I was influenced by interested motives, to make more extensive ar. rangements than were necessary, I voluntarily relinquished every kind of emolument for conducting the business, save my family ex, penses.
It is unnecessary for me to go into the general objections I have to the plan it is sufficient to say, that my feelings are injured, and the officers necessary to conduct the business are not allowed, nor is proper provision made for some of those that are. There is but one assistant quarter master general, who is to reside near congress, and one deputy, for the main army, allowed in the system. Whoever has the least knowledge of the business in this office, and the field duty which is to be done, must be fully convinced, that it is impossi ble to perform it without much more assistance than is allowed in
the present arrangement. Whether
While acting at the board of war, on the 21st of January, 1780, Colonel Pickering was chosen, with General Schuyler, commissioners to superintend and reform the staff department. General Schuyler having declined, General Mifflin afterwards acted with Colonel Pickering, in the execution of the duties intrusted to these commissioners, and on. the 14th of April following, they received the thanks of congress for the able and atten. tive performance of their duties.
Colonel Pickering continued to act as a member of the board of war, until the 5th of August, 1780, when he was elected quarter master general, as successor to General Greene, who had resigned that office. Congress had just before re-organized the department of quarter master general, and the footing on which it was placed, occasioned so much dissatisfaction to General Greene, and he saw so little probability of discharging its duties, either with credit to himself, or with benefit to the country, that he addressed the following letter to the president of Congress.
CAMP PRECANESS, 26th July, 1780. SIR-His excellency, General
the army is large or small, there is no difference in the plan, though the business may be occasionally multiplied threefold.
But, however willing I might have been, heretofore, to subject myself to the fatigue and difficulties attending the duties of this office, justice to myself, as well as to the public, constrains me positively to decline it, under the present arrangement, as I do not choose to attempt an experiment of so dangerous a nature, where I see a physical impossibility of perform ing the duties that will be required of me. I am, therefore, to request congress will appoint another quarter master general, without loss of time, as I shall give no order in the business, further than to acquaint the deputies with the new system, and direct them to close their accounts up to the first of August coming.
The two principal characters on whom I depended for support, and whose appointment, under the former arrangement, I made an express condition to my accepting the office, are now left out, and both have advertised me, that they will take no further charge of the business; and I am apprehensive that many others, who have been held by necessity and not of choice, will avail themselves of this opportunity to leave an employment, which is not only unprofitable, but rendered dishonourable.
Systems, without agents, are useless things: the one should be taken into consideration in framing the other. Administration seem to think it far less important to the public interest to have this department well filled, and properly arranged, than it really is, and as
they will find it by future experience.
My best endeavours have not been wanting, to give success to the business committed to my care; and I leave the merit of my services to be determined hereafter, by the future management of it, under the direction of another hand.
My rank is high, in the line of the army; and the sacrifices I have made, on that account, together with the fatigue and anxiety I have undergone, far overbalance all the emoluments I have derived. from the appointment; nor would double the consideration induce me to tread the same path over again, unless I saw it necessary to preserve my country from utter ruin and a disgraceful servitude. I have the honour to be, &c. NATHL. GREENE, Q. M. General.
This plain and frank letter occasioned, at first, some feeling in congress, but it was somewhat allayed by an inquiry, on the part of one of the Connecticut delegation, whether it was not possible, that the reasons urged by General Greene, were founded in truth. It was, however, now too late to retract; and, as the resignation was decisive, nothing remained except to choose a successor to a post thus environed with difficulties. Col. Pickering was appointed on the 5th of August; and it is a subject of no ordinary praise, that he per. formed its complicated and arduous duties, so as to acquire the confi. dence of Washington; and that its extensive and intricate accounts were settled after the termination
of the war, to the satisfaction of
From the year 1790 to 1794, Colonel Pickering was charged, by General Washington, (then president of the United States,) with several negotiations with the Indian nations on our frontiers. In 1798, he was appointed on a joint commission from Gen. Lincoln and Beverly Randolph, Esq. of Virginia, to treat of peace with the western Indians: and, in 1794, he was appointed sole agent to adjust all disputes with the Six Nations, which were terminated by a satisfactory treaty.
In the year 1791, Gen. Wash. ington appointed him post-master general. In this office he continued till the close of the year 1794; when, on the resignation of General Knox, he was appointed secretary of war. In August, 1795, Mr. Edmund Randolph having re signed the office of secretary of state, General Washington gave Colonel P. the temporary charge of that department also. Some time before the meeting of con. gress, which was in December fol. lowing, he also tendered to Colonel Pickering the office of secretary of state, which was declined, but when congress assembled, Washington having nominated him to the senate, and the senate approving the nomination, he accepted the office. He continued in this office until May, 1800, when he was removed by President Adams, having differed with the president on the policy of his administration, and de. termined to act with General Hamilton.
Being in debt for new lands pur. chased some years before, and having no other resources-as soon as he was removed from office, in 1800, he carried his family from
Philadelphia into the country; and, with one of his sons, went into the back woods of Pennsylvania, where, with the aid of some labourers, they cleared a few acres of land, sowed wheat, and built a log hut, into which he meant the next year to remove his family. From this condition he was drawn by the kindness of his friends in Massachu, setts. By their spontaneous libe. rality, in taking a transfer of new lands in exchange for money, Col. Pickering was enabled to pay his debts, return to his native state, and to purchase a small farm in Essex county, on which he lived many years, cultivating it with his own. hands.
At the close of the year 1801, Colonel Pickering returned to live in Massachusetts. In 1803, the legislature appointed him a senator to represent the state in congress, for the residue of the term of Dwight Foster, Esq. who had resigned. In 1805, he was again elected senator, for the term of six years.
Colonel P. continued to sustain the office of senator till 1811. Soon after, he was chosen, by the legislature, a member of the executive council, and, during the late war, when apprehensions were entertained that the enemy contemplated assailing our towns and cities, he was chosen a member of the board of war, for the defence of the state. In 1814, he was chosen a representative in congress, and held his seat till March, 1817.
In his retirement, he enjoyed the respect and esteem of his contemporaries, while his devotion to his fa. vourite rural pursuits, his extensive correspondence with eminent and worthy men in various parts of our country; his love of literature and science, and his zeal in promotion
of the interests of our best institutions, furnished his mind with active employment.
The activity of his life, and the magnitude and variety of his public labours, left him little leisure for solitary and continued applica. tion to the pursuits of science and literature. He made no pretensions to either, yet few public men possessed knowledge so various and extensive. The productions of his pen bear testimony to his ability, power, elegance, and vigour as a writer.
In public life, he was distinguish. ed for energy, fidelity, firmness, promptitude, perseverance, and disinterestedness.
His manners were plain and sim. ple, his morals pure and unblem. ished, and his belief and profession of the Christian religion was, through a long life, accompanied with practice and conduct, in ac. cordance with its divine precepts.
When the last indisposition of Colonel Pickering induced him to call a physician, he remarked that that was the first occasion he had had for the services of that profession since the siege of Yorktown. Till the last moment of his life, he enjoyed the possession of his men. tal faculties in unabated strength and vivacity.
SIR HUMPHREY DAVY.
May 30th, 1829.-At Geneva, Sir Humphrey Davy, aged 50.
The name of Davy is of ancient respectability in the West of England. Sir Humphrey's paternal grandfather had considerable land. ed property in the parish of Ludgvan, in Cornwall; and his father, Robert Davy, possessed a paternal
estate opposite St. Michael's Mount, called Bartel, which, although small, was amply competent for the supply of his limited desires. It is probable, therefore, that his profession, which was that of a carver in wood, was pursued by him as an object rather of amusement than of necessity, although in the town and neighbourhood of Penzance there remain many specimens of his art; and among others several chimneypieces, curiously embellished by his chisel.
Sir Humphrey Davy was born at Penzance, in Cornwall, on the of December, 1778. Having received the rudiments of a classical education under Dr. Cardew of Truro, he was placed with a respectable professional gentleman of the name of Tonkin, at Penzance, in order that he might ac. quire a knowledge of the profession of a surgeon and apothecary.
It is not difficult to understand how it happened, that a person, en. dowed with the genius and sensibilities of Davy, should have had his mind directed to the study of mineralogy and chemistry, when we consider the nature and scenery of the country in which accident had planted him. Many of his friends and associates must have been connected with mining speculations; shafts, cross courses, lodes, &c. were words familiarized to his cars; and his native love of inquiry could not have long suffered such terms to remain as unmeaning sounds. Nor could he wander along the rocky coast, nor repose for a moment to contemplate its wild scenery, without being invited to geological inquiry by the genius of the place; for, were that science to be personified, it would be im
possible to select a more appropriate spot for her local habitation and favoured abode.
This bias he cultivated till his fifteenth year, when he became the pupil of Dr. Borlase of Penzance, an ingenious surgeon, intending to prepare himself for gradua. ting as a physician at Edinburgh. At this early age, he laid down for himself a plan of education, which embraced the circle of the sciences; and by his eighteenth year he had acquired the rudi. ments of botany, anatomy, and phy. sology, the simpler mathematics, metaphysics, natural philosophy, and chemistry. But chemistry soon arrested his whole attention. As far as can be ascertained, the first original experiment performed by him at Penzance was for the purpose of investigating the nature of the air contained in the bladders of sea-weed. His instruments, how. ever, were of the rudest description, manufactured by himself out of the motley materials which fell in his way; the pots and pans of the kitchen were appropriated with out ceremony, and even the phials and gallipots of his master were without the least remorse put in requisition.
Before the formation of the Ge. ological Society of London, which has been the means of introducing more rational and correct views in the science over which it presides, geologists were divided into two great parties,-Neptunists and Plutonists; the one affirming that the globe was indebted for its form and arrangement to the agency of water, the other to that of re. It so happened, that the professors of Oxford and Cambridge ranged themselves under opposite banners: Dr. Beddoes was a violent and un
compromising Plutonist, while pro fessor Hailstone was as decided a Neptunist. The rocks of Cornwall were appealed to as affording sup port to either theory; and the two professors, who, although adverse in opinion, were united in friend. ship, determined to proceed toge. ther to the field of dispute, each hoping that he might thus convict the other of his error. The geological combatants arrived at Penzance; and Davy became known to them, through the medium of Mr. Gilbert. Mr. Watt was also enthusiastic in his praise; and it so happening that at that time Dr. Beddoes had just established at Bristol his "Pneumatic Institu tion," for the purpose of investiga. ting the medical powers of the dif ferent gases, he proposed to Mr. Davy, who was then only nineteen years of age, but who, in addition to the recommendations that have been mentioned, had prepossessed the professor in his favour by an essay in which was propounded a new theory of heat and light, to suspend his plan of going to Edinburgh, and to undertake the superintendence of the necessary experiments. This proposal Davy ea gerly accepted.
Davy was now constantly en. gaged in the prosecution of new experiments; in the conception of which, as he himself candidly informs us, he was grealy aided by the conversation and advice of his friend Dr. Beddoes. He was also occasionally assisted by Mr. W. Clayfield, a gentleman ardently attached to chemical pursuits, and whose name is not unk wn in the annals of science; indeed it appears that to him Davy was indebted for the invention of a mercurial air-holder, by which he was ena