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Page 4

William Ellery

1727-1820


   While thus engaged, his family physician called to see him. On feeling his pulse, he found that it had ceased to beat. A draught of wine and water quickened it into life, however, again, and being placed and supported on the bed, he continued reading, until the lamp of life, in a moment of which his friends were ignorant, was extinguished.
   "Of no distemper, of no blast he died,
But fell like autumn fruit that mellowed long,
E'en wonder'd at because he falls no sooner.
Fate seem'd to wind him up for fourscore years,
Yet freshly ran he on twelve winters more:
Till, like a clock worn out with eating time,
The wheels of weary life at last stood still."
   In the character of Mr. Ellery there was much to admire. He was, indeed, thought by some to have been too tenacious of his opinion, and not always free from asperity to others. But years mellowed down these unpleasant traits of his character, and showed that he had exercised a watchfulness over himself, not entirely in vain. He manifested an uncommon disregard of the applause of men. It was often upon his lips: "humility rather than pride becomes such creatures as we are." He looked upon the world and its convulsions with religious serenity, and in times of public danger, and of public difficulty, be comforted himself and others, with the pious reflection of the psalmist, "The Lord reigneth."
   In conversation, Mr. Ellery was at once interesting and instructive. His advice was often sought, and his opinions regarded with great reverence. In letter writing he excelled, as he did in fine penmanship, which latter would be inferred from his signature to the declaration of independence. In stature, he was of middling height, and carried in his person the indications of a sound frame and an easy mind. In the courtesies of life, he kept pace with the improvements of the age; but his conversation, and dress, and habits of life, plainly showed that he belonged to a more primitive generation.

Source: Rev. Charles A. Goodrich Lives of the Signers to the Declaration of Independence. New York: William Reed & Co., 1856. Pages 183-186. (Some minor spelling changes may have been made.)

See also:

  • The biography of Ann Remington Ellery, William Ellery's first wife

  • The biography of Abigail Carey Ellery, William Ellery's second wife

     
     

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    Last modified January 2, 2004