« 이전계속 »
naged her domestic concerns; but, beyond this, her early education, so far as others were concerned in it, was confined to the arts of reading and writing. She married young, and became the mother of a family, before she began to devote much of her time and thoughts to study. Yet, with access to few books, or other of the usual means of study, she became the mistress of accomplishments such as few possess. In her earliest years, tive and inquisitive mind could not be satisfied with the scanty pittance of knowledge, which at that period was usually the lot of her sex; and she fortunately had access to one prolific source of information, which she failed not to improve. Her father was not only one of the most distinguished scholars of his day, but was a man of social habits, fond of the society of his own family, and endowed with rare talents for conversation. Few men ever possessed, in so high a degree, the art of communicating to others, the acquisitions of his own mind. He had the faculty of rendering science familiar and agreeable, and of bringing the most difficult attainments within the comprehension of the common intellect. He was especially fond of studying the material world, in those forms in
which it is every where presented to the eye, of separating it from the jargon of the books, and exhibiting it to his pupils, in the language of common sense and feeling. In a period remarkable for its formality, and when schoolmen seemed to study the forms of science rather than its truths, his practical mind reached forward, and anticipated much of that improvement in the art of communicating knowledge, which is now beginning to be so well understood. Although intimately versed in the learned languages, and in the various systems of philosophy, and although he could, on proper occasions, invest his thoughts in all the technicalities of the schools, it was his greatest delight to render knowledge familiar, to strip it of those formalities which are chilling to the ordinary mind, and to recommend it to his hearers by those familiar illustrations, which all can understand. In his own family especially, it was his custom to converse in the most familiar manner, upon serious and instructive topics. He was peculiarly fitted for such employment by the remarkable evenness of his temper, the sprightliness of his disposition, and the fervour of his piety. His religion was of a cheerful character,
which, while it enabled him to maintain the dig. nity and sanctity of his office, threw no gloom upon surrounding objects. His fireside, while it was the scene of hospitality and cheerfulness, was always enlivened with literary and scientific discussion.
Of these advantages, Miss Ewing failed not to avail herself. If she had not the regular means of instruction, nor opportunities for study, she was surrounded by the light of knowledge; and the writer of this, has listened with intense admiration to her animated description of the eagerness with which she gleaned instruction, while a mere child, from discourses which were intended for the ears of others. She obtained a critical acquaintance with the principles of grammar, and an extensive knowledge of the ancient classics, by hearing her brothers recite their Latin and Greek lessons, to their father, and by listening to the conversations of the learned men, who frequented his house. True genius is stimulated to exertion by the obstacles which embarrass it in the pursuit of knowledge; and in the case of Miss Ewing, the difficulties which she was obliged to surmount, only served to redouble her industry, and to give increased value to the hard earned acquisitions of her mind.
At this period she became much addicted to the study of astronomy, a science in which her father had attained great eminence; and which she studied entirely by means of conversations with him, and observations of the heavenly bodies, under his direction. Her acquisitions in this department were respectable, and she continued through life to prize, and to improve them. Her reading, at this time, was rather choice than extensive; and was confined chiefly to history and belles lettres. For the latter she always had a decided and highly refined taste; and as it was not thought necessary, then, for females to read at all, and no course of study was marked out for her, she perused with avidity, all the most elegant productions of the press which fell in her way. Even this much was done often by stealth, in those leisure moments which the industrious economy of her mother allowed her to call her own.
At the close of the revolutionary war, in the year 1782, the subject of this memoir was married to Mr. John Hall, the son of a wealthy planter in Maryland, to which state they removed. Here she
spent about eight years, upon a beautiful farm on the shores of the Susquehanna. But her taste was not for retirement. She was naturally gay; and she loved books, society, and her friends, too dearly, to be satisfied with a country life, in a secluded neighbourhood. After their residence in Maryland, they settled in Philadelphia, where Mr. Hall filled successively the offices of Secretary of the Land Office, and Marshal of the United States, for the district of Pennsylvania. This connexion was formed when Mrs. Hall was very young, and the cares of a family now prevented her from pursuing any systematic course of study. She was thrown, however, by her residence in Philadelphia, into a circle of literary society, and enjoyed the advantage of a familiar acquaintance with some of the most learned men, She was near her father, who always loved to communicate knowledge. But the most valuable acquisitions of her mind were now made in solitude, over the midnight lamp. Her fondness for reading was great; but the necessary attention to her household duties, claimed a large portion of her time, and never were duties more scrupulously performed, than those which this inestimable woman owed