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The treaty must appear to be bad, not merely in the petty details, but in its character, principle, and mass; and, in the next place, this ought to be ascertained by the decided and general concurrence of the enlightened public. I confess there seems to me something very like ridicule thrown over the debate, by the discussion of the articles in detail.
The undecided point is, shall we break our faith? and while our country and enlightened Europe await the issue, with more than curiosity, we are employed to gather piece-meal, and article by article, from the instrument, a justification for the deed, by trivial calculations of commercial profit and loss. This is little worthy of the subject, of this body, or of the nation. If the treaty is bad, it will appear to be so in its mass. Evil, to a fatal extreme, if that be its tendency, requires no proof; it brings it. Extremes speak for themselves, and make their own law. Few men of any reputation for sense, among those who say the treaty is bad, will put that reputation so much at hazard as to pretend that it is so extremely bad as to warrant and require a violation of the public faith.
In the next place, will the state of public opinion justify the deed ? No government, not even a despotism, will break its faith without some pretext; and it must be plausible,—it must be such as will carry the public opinion along with it. Reasons of policy, if not of morality, dissuade even Turkey and Algiers from breaches of treaty in mere wantonness of perfidy, in open contempt of the reproaches of their subjects. Surely a popular government will not proceed more arbitrarily, as it is more free; nor with less shame or scruple in proportion as it has better morals. It will not proceed against the faith of treaties at all, unless the strong and decided sense of the nation shall pronounce, not simply that the treaty is not advantageous, but that it ought to be broken and annulled.
Why, Mr. Chairman, do the opposers of this treaty complain that the West Indies are not laid open ? Why do they lament that any restriction is stipulated on the commerce of the East Indies? Why do they pretend that if they reject this and insist upon more, more will be accomplished? Let us be explicit : more would not satisfy. If all was granted, would not a treaty of amity with Great Britain still be obnoxious ? Have we not this instant heard it urged against our envoy that he was not ardent enough in his hatred of Great Britain ? A treaty of amity is condemned because it was not made by a foe, and in the spirit
The same gentleman, at the same instant, repeats a very prevailing objection, that no treaty should be made with the enemy of France. No treaty, exclaim others, should be made with a monarch or a despot; there will be no naval security while
those sea-robbers domineer on the ocean : their den must be de stroyed; that nation must be extirpated.
I like this, sir, because it is sincerity. With feelings such as these, we do not pant for treaties. Such passions seek nothing, and will be content with nothing, but the destruction of theis object. If a treaty left King George his island, it would not answer,—no, not if he stipulated to pay rent for it. It has even been said, the world ought to rejoice if Britain was sunk in the sea; if, where there are now men, and wealth, and laws, and liberty, there was no more than a sandbank for the sea-monsters to fatten on, a space for the storms of the ocean to mingle in conflict.
What is patriotism? Is it a narrow affection for the spot where a man was born ? Are the
clods where we tread entitled to this ardent preference because they are greener? No, sir: this is not the character of the virtue, and it soars higher for its object. It is an extended self-love, mingling with all the enjoyments of life, and twisting itself with the minutest filaments of the heart. It is thus we obey the laws of society, because they are the laws of virtue. In their authority we see, not the array of force and terror, but the venerable image of our country's honor. Every good citizen makes that honor his own, and cherishes it not only as precious, but as sacred. He is willing to risk his life in its defence, and is conscious that he gains protection while he gives it; for what rights of a citizen will be deemed inviolable when a State renounces the principles that constitute their security ? Or, if his life should not be invaded, what would its enjoyments be in a country odious in the eyes of strangers and dishonored in his own? Could he look with affection and veneration to such a country as his parent? The sense of having one would die within him; he would blush for his patriotism, if he retained any, and justly, for it would be a vice. He would be a banished man in his native land.
WASHINGTON AS A CIVILIAN.
However his military fame may excite the wonder of mankind, it is chiefly by his civil magistracy that Washington's example will instruct them. Great generals have arisen in all ages of the world, and perhaps most in those of despotism and darkness. In times of violence and convulsion, they rise, by the force of the whirlwind, high enough to ride in it and direct the storm. Like meteors, they glare on the black clouds with a splendor that, while it dazzles and terrifies, makes nothing visible but the darkness.
The fame of heroes is indeed growing vulgar: they multiply in every long war; they stand in history, and thicken in their ranks almost as undistinguished as their own soldiers.
But such a chief magistrate as Washington appears like the pole-star in a clear sky, to direct the skilful statesman. sidency will form an epoch, and be distinguished as the age of Washington. Already it assumes its high place in the political region. Like the milky way, it whitens along its allotted portion of the hemisphere. The latest generations of men will survey, through the telescope of history, the space where so many virtues blend their rays, and delight to separate them into groups and distinct virtues. As the best illustration of them, the living monument to which the first of patriots would have chosen to consign his fame, it is my earnest prayer to heaven that our country may subsist, even to that late day, in the plenitude of its liberty and happiness, and mingle its mild glory with Washington's.
CHARACTER OF THE NEWSPAPER PRESS. It seems as if newspaper wares were made to suit a market as much as any other. The starers, and wonderers, and gapers engross a very large share of the attention of all the sons of the type.
Extraordinary events multiply upon us surprisingly. Gazettes, it is seriously to be feared, will not long allow room to any thing that is not loathsome or shocking. A newspaper is pronounced to be very lean and destitute of matter if it contains no account of murders, suicides, prodigies, or monstrous births.
Some of these tales excite horror, and others disgust; yet the fashion reigns, like a tyrant, to relish wonders, and almost to relish nothing else. Is this a reasonable taste? or is it monstrous and worthy of ridicule? Is the history of Newgate the only one worth reading? Are oddities only to be hunted? Pray, tell us, men of ink, if our free presses are to diffuse information, and we, the poor, ignorant people, can get it no other way than by newspapers, what knowledge we are to glean from the blundering lies, or the tiresome truths about thunder-storms, that, stranye to tell kill oxen or burn barns.
Surely extraordinary events have not the best title to our studious attention. To study nature or man, we ought to know things that are in the ordinary course, not the unaccountable things that happen out of it. * * *
Some of the shocking articles in the papers raise simple, and very simple, wonder; some, terror; and some, horror and disgust. Now, what instruction is there in these endless wonders ? Who is the wiser or happier for reading the accounts of them? On the contrary, do they not shock tender minds and addle shallow
brains? They make a thousand old maids, and eight or ten thousand booby boys, afraid to go to bed alone. Worse than this happens; for some eccentric minds are turned to mischief by such accounts as they receive of troops of incendiaries burning our cities: the spirit of imitation is contagious, and boys are found unaccountably bent to do as men do. When the man flew from the steeple of the North Church, fifty years ago, every unlucky boy thought of nothing but flying from a sign-post.
Every horrid story in a newspaper produces a shock; but, after some time, this shock lessens. At length, such stories are so far from giviny pain that they rather raise curiosity, and we desire nothing so much as the particulars of terrible tragedies. To wonder is as easy as to stare, and the most vacant mind is the most in need of such resources as cost no trouble of scrutiny or reflection; it is a sort of food for idle curiosity that is readily chewed and digested.
Now, Messrs. Printers, I pray the whole honorable craft to banish as many murders, and horrid accidents, and monstrous births, and prodigies, from their gazettes, as their readers will permit them; and, by degrees, to coax them back to contemplate life and manners, to consider common events with some common sense, and to study nature where she can be known, rather than in those of her ways where she really is, or is represented to be, inexplicable.
Boston Palladium, October, 1801.
CHARACTER OF HAMILTON.
In all the different stations in which a life of active usefulness placed Hamilton, we find him not more remarkably distinguished by the extent, than by the variety and versatility, of his talents. In every place he made it apparent that no other man could have filled it so well; and in times of critical importance, in which alone he desired employment, his services were justly deemed absolutely indispensable. As Secretary of the Treasury, his was the powerful spirit that presided over the chaos.
“Confusion heard his voice, and wild Uproar
Stood ruled.” Indeed, in organizing the Federal Government, in 1789, every man of either sense or candor will allow, the difficulties seemed greater than the first-rate abilities could surmount. The event has shown that his abilities were greater than those difficulties. He surmounted them; and Washington's administration was the most wise and beneficent, the most prosperous, and ought to be the most popular, that ever was intrusted with the affairs of a nation.
Great as was Washington's merit, much of it in plan, much in execution, will of course devolve upon his minister.
As a lawyer, his comprehensive genius reached the principles of his profession; he compassed its extent, he fathomed its profound, perhaps, even more familiarly and easily than the ordinary rules of its practice. With most men law is a trade; with him it was a science.
As a statesman, he was not more distinguished by the great extent of his views than by the caution with which he provided against impediments, and the watchfulness of his care over the right and liberty of the subject. In none of the many revenue bills which he framed, though committees reported them, is there to be found a single clause that savors of despotic power; not one that the sagest champions of law and liberty would, on that ground, hesitate to approve and adopt.
It is rare that a man who owes so much to nature descends to seek more from industry; but he seemed to depend on industry as if nature had done nothing for him. His habits of investigation were very remarkable; his mind seemed to cling to his subject till he had exhausted it. Hence the uncommon superiority of his reasoning powers,-a superiority that seemed to be augmented from every source and to be fortified by every auxiliary, -learning, taste, wit, imagination, and eloquence. These were embellished and enforced by his temper and manners, by his fame and his virtues. It is difficult, in the midst of such various excellence, to say in what particular the effect of his greatness was most manifest. No man more promptly discerned truth; no man more clearly displayed it: it was not merely made visible,-it seemed to come bright with illumination from his lips. But, prompt and clear as he was,-fervid as Demosthenes, like Cicero full of resource,-he was not less remarkable for the copiousness and completeness of his argument, that left little for cavil, and nothing for doubt. Some men take their strongest argument as a weapon, and use no other; but he left nothing to be inquired for more, nothing to be answered. He not only disarmed his adversaries of their pretexts and objections, but he stripped them of all excuse for having urged them; he confounded and subdued as well as convinced. He indemnified them, however, by making his discussion a complete map of his subject; so that his opponents might, indeed, feel ashamed of their mistakes, but they could not repeat them. In fact, it was no common effort that could preserve a really able antagonist from becoming his convert; for the truth which his researches so distinctly presented to the understanding of others was rendered almost irresistibly commanding and impressive, by the love and reverence which, it was ever apparent, he profoundly cherished for it in his own. While