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BIOGRAPHICAL.

ORIGINAL.

JAMES OTIS. JAMES Otis was born at Great Marshes, now West Barnstable, in this State, February 5, 1724. The want of a classical education had taught his father properly to appreciate its advantages, and the son was placed under the tuition of the Rev. Mr. Russell to prepare for the University at Cambridge. He entered college in June, 1739. During the two first years, his wit and vivacity led the elder students to seek his society, and his time was devoted more to amusement than books. It was not until towards the close of bis collegiate course that the powers of his mind began to be disclosed, and his true character to be developed. He received his first degree in 1743, and his second, in regular course, three years afterwards. From his junior year, he applied himself with great assiduity to his studies, and the levity and playfulness heretofore marking his character, were exchanged for grávity and reflection. While spending his vacations at his father's house, such was the constancy with which he applied himself, that the neighbors rarely saw him. Notwithstanding his diligence and apparent sobriety, his wit and hamor would occasionally discover themselves. He sometimes amused himself by playing on the violin. A small party, consisting of young people, once visiting his father's, during a vacation, persuaded him to unite with them in their sports. A set was made op for a dance, and after much entreaty, Otis was made to take bis violin and play for them. When they had become fairly engaged, he suddenly stopped playing, and holding up his fiddle in one band, and his bow in the other, exclaimed, “ So Orpheus fiddled, and so danced the brutes !” and throwing them away, fled into the garden, leaving the disconcerted dancers in the midst of their figure.

After he left college he devoted himself to miscellaneous reading for near two years. He then commenced the study of the law in the office of Mr. Gridley, one of the most eminent lawyers and civilians of the province. Having completed bis studies, he first opened his office and began the practice of law in Plymouth. But he remained here only two years, when he removed to Boston, where he soon became one of the most distinguished in his profession. His integrity, his learning, and bis eloquence, in a short time furnished him a very extensive business. No member of the bar was thought to possess more general information than Mr. Otis. His reputation had gone abroad into the adjoining provinces, and in cases of difficulty and importance, the council and aid of no one was sought with more eagerness and relied on with such confidence. His frank and undisguised manners gave him an almost unlimited control over the minds of the jury, while the correctness of his principles and his magnanimity, acquired for him the admiration of the court. The perfect urbanity of his manners, and the ardor of his patriotism, joined with these other popular quali- . ties, made him no less the delight of the whigs, than the terror of the government party. ,

Soon after the conquest of Canada, the provinces were alarmed by a report that some unpleasant changes were about to be made in their government. The truth of the rumor was first seen in an order of council to carry into effect the acts of trade. For this purpose writs of assistance, as they were called, were to be granted to the officers of the customs, on petition, by the Supreme Court. Chief Justice Sewall gave it as his opinion that the writs were unconstitutional, and that the court had no right to grant them. The other judges were silent. The writs, being demanded by officers of the Crown, they could not be dismissed without a hearing, and the term of the Court held in February, 1761, at Boston, was appointed for arguing the question. The merchants looked forward to the decision with the deepest solicitude. Mr. Otis, as advocate general, was called on by the officers of the customs to manage their cause. He regarded the writs as illegal and tyrannical, and to avoid appearing in support of measures he deemed oppressive and unjust, he resigned his office. He was then applied to by the mer. cantile interest of Salem and Boston to oppose the granting the writs. He was aided by Mr. Thatcher, one of the most eminent of the profession of the law. Mr. Gridley, his former instructor, was employed by Government to oppose him. The case was opened by the latter gentleman, and argued with much learning and dignity. He was followed on the other side by Mr. Thatcher, in a speech remarkable for its ingenuity and candor, and the mildness and moderation with which it was pronounced. “ But Otis," to use the language of the ex-president Adams, “ was a flame ot fire; with a promptitude of classical allusions, a depth of research, a rapid summary of historical events and dates, a profusion of legal authorities, a prophetic glance of his eyes into futurity, and rapid torrent of impetuous eloquence, he hurried away all before him. American Independence was then and there born. The seeds of

patriots and heroes to defend the vigorous youth, were then and there sown. Every man of an immense crowded audience appear ed to me to go away as I did, ready to take arms against writs of assistance. Then and there was the first scene of the first act of opposition, to the arbitrary claims of Great Britain. Then and there the child Independence was born. In fifteen years, i. e. in 1776, he grew up to manhood and declared himself free.”

Few periods in history have been more fortunate for the developement of character than the fifteen years preceding the American Revolution. The sense of a constantly increasing oppression on the one hand, and the determined efforts of the ministry on the other, to enforce the most tyrannic councils, enlisted the greatest talents and drew forth all the intellectual resources of the country. Mr. Otis' natural love of liberty and his ideas of independence prompted him to espouse with warmth, and defend resolutely the cause of the colonies. He was sent at an early age to the provincial legislature, and soon became one of the most efficient and influential members of that assembly. His talents, supported by the most irreproachable integrity, gave him entire dominion over the minds and feelings of his party. From 1761 to '70, he devoted himself alonost wholly to the service of the public. In his conversation and his writings he ever manifested the most ardent patriotism. His republican principles brought down upon him the hatred of Gov. Bernard, and afterwarıls of Gov. Hutchinson. His unwearied efforts to counteract the tyranny of the British ministry, and his unabated zeal in what he considered the cause of liberty, made him the idol of the popular party. No man spoke with more energy. His wit, his eloquence, and the force of his arguments bore away every thing before him. Such was his influence that the ministry began to devise measures for removing him from the country. It was reported that a motion was made in Parliament to arrest him for high treason. He had declined offices of profit and honor under the English Government, and measures of severity were now resorted to for removing him to a place where his influence could no longer defeat the plans of the ministry. Assassination was the base mean by which the American people were to be deprived of his efficient and active services. Representations regarding him the most dishonorable had been made by the provincial governor, and others to the British parliament; these had been detected, and their hatred of him increased. It was said that was it not for Otis, with Samuel Adams, and a few other factious demagogues, the colHis reputation had gone abroad into the adjoining provinces, and in cases of difficulty and importance, the council and aid of no one was sought with more eagerness and relied on with such confidence. His frank and undisguised manners gave him an almost unlimited control over the minds of the jury, while the correctness of his principles and his magnanimity, acquired for him the admiration of the court. The perfect urbanity of his manners, and the ardor of his patriotism, joined with these other popular quali- ties, made him no less the delight of the whigs, than the terror of the government party.

Soon after the conquest of Canada, the provinces were alarmed by a report that some unpleasant changes were about to be made in their government. The truth of the rumor was first seen in an order of council to carry into effect the acts of trade. For this purpose writs of assistance, as they were called, were to be granted to the officers of the customs, on petition, by the Supreme Court. Chief Justice Sewall gave it as his opinion that the writs were unconstitutional, and that the court had no right to grant them. The other judges were silent. The writs, being demanded by officers of the Crown, they could not be dismissed without a hearing, and the term of the Court held in February, 1761, at Boston, was appointed for arguing the question. The merchants looked forward to the decision with the deepest solicitude. Mr. Otis, as advocate general, was called on by the officers of the customs to manage their cause. He regarded the writs as illegal and tyrannical, and to avoid appearing in support of measures he deemed oppressive and unjust, he resigned his office. He was then applied to by the mer. cantile interest of Salem and Boston to oppose the granting the writs. He was aided by Mr. Thatcher, one of the most eminent of the profession of the law. Mr. Gridley, his former instructor, was employed by Government to oppose him. The case was opened by the latter gentleman, and argued with much learning and dignity. He was followed on the other side by Mr. Thatcher, in a speech remarkable for its ingenuity and candor, and the mildness and moderation with which it was pronounced. 6 But Otis," to use the language of the ex-president Adams, “ was a Aame of fire ; with a promptitude of classical allusions, a depth of research, a rapid summary of historical events and dates, a profusion of legal authorities, a prophetic glance of his eyes into futurity, and rapid torrent of impetuous eloquence, he hurried away all before him. American Independence was then and there born. The seeds of

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