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patriotism glowed in his heart, wisdom blended in his speech her authority with her charms. * * *
The most substantial glory of a country is in its virtuous great men; its prosperity will depend on its docility to learn from their example. The name of Hamilton would have honored Greece in the age of Aristides. May Heaven, the guardian of our liberty, grant that our country may be fruitful of Hamiltons, and faithful to their glory!
In affairs that concern morals, we consider the approbation of a man's own conscience as more precious than all human rewards. But in the province of the imagination, the applause of others is of all excitements the strongest. This excitement is the cause, excellence the effect. When erery thing concurs—and in Greece every thing did concur—to augment its power, a nation wakes at once from the sleep of ages. It would seem as if some Minerva, some present divinity, inhabited her own temple in Athens, and, by flashing light and working miracles, had conferred on a single people, and almost on a single age of that people, powers that are denied to other men and other times. The admiration of posterity is excited and overstrained by an effulgence of glory as much beyond our comprehension as our emulation. The Greeks seem to us a race of giants,—Titans,—the rivals yet the favorites of their gods. We think their apprehension was quicker, their native taste more refined, their prose poetry, their poetry music, their music enchantment. We imagine they had more expression in their faces, more grace in their movements, more sweetness in the tones of conversation, than the moderns. Their fabulous deities are supposed to have left their heaven to breathe the fragrance of their groves and to enjoy the beauty of their landscapes. The monuments of heroes must have excited to heroism, and the fountains which the muses had chosen for their purity, imparted inspiration. It is indeed almost impossible to contemplate the bright ages of Greece without indulging the propensity to enthusiasm.
In democratic states there will be factions. The sovereign power, being nominally in the hands of all, will be effectually within the grasp of a few; and therefore, by the very laws of our nature, a few will combine, intrigue, lie, and fight to engross it to themselves. All history bears testimony that this attempt has never yet been disappointed.
Who will be the associates ? Certainly not the virtuous, who do not wish to control the society, but quietly to enjoy its protection. The enterprising merchant, the thriving tradesman, the careful farmer, will be engrossed by the toils of their business, and will have little time or inclination for the unprofitable and disquieting pursuits of politics. It is not the industrious, sober husbandman who will plough that barren field : it is the lazy and dissolute bankrupt, who has no other to plough. The idle, the ambitious, and the needy will band together to break the hold that law has upon them, and then to get hold of law. Faction is a Hercules, whose first labor is to strangle this lion, and then to make armour of his skin. In every democratic state, the ruling faction will have law to keep down its enemies, but it will arrogate to itself an undisputed power over law.
NOAH WEBSTER, 1758-1843.
Noah Webster was born in West Hartford, Connecticut, on the 16th of October, 1758, and graduated with much reputation at Yale College in 1778. He then engaged in the instruction of a school at Hartford, studying law at the same time, and was admitted to the bar in 1781. Not being encouraged to enter immediately on the practice of his profession, in consequence of the impoverished state of the country, he took charge of a grammar-school at Goshen, in the State of New York. Here he compiled his celebrated Spelling-Book, which he published on his return to Hartford in 1783; and soon after appeared his English Grammar, and a compilation for reading. All these works, particularly the Spelling-Book, have had
" It is a sad truth that many of our best citizens in all parts of the country live in the constant neglect of their political duties. They are eloquent upon the evils of misgovernment, and yet forget that they are accountable for a large share of the mischiefs by which they suffer in common with the whole country. There is no reason why, in a republican country, political contact should be repulsive, except in the very fact that those whose character would give respectability to our elections choose to stay away, and thus create the very difficulty of which they are so sensitive. Men may talk of ignoring politics, but in reality they cannot do it. The happiness and prosperity of the nation depend in a great degree upon the manner in which its government is administered, the laws which its corporatious or legislatures enact, and the manner in which those laws are enforced. No man has any right to complain of bad rulers, municipal, state, or national, if he has done nothing to put better ones in their place. The refusal of men to take a few hours in the year from their daily business and give them to public interests, by attending the primary meetings where candidates are nominated for office, and then by going to the polls and voting for good men, is probably what Mr. Ames refers to when he says that our countrymen “are too sordid for patriotism.” (See Note 3, p. 131.) of all countries in the world, ours, where every thing dcpends on the popular will, is the least adapted to men who are indifferent to politics; for if the wise and the good neglect their political duties, the country will be ruled by the ignorant and the base.
a very wide circulation, and have done much to promote uniformity of language and pronunciation in our country.
About this time he became a political writer, and his Sketches of American Policy, published in 1784; his writings in favor of the adoption of the Federal Constitution; in defence of Washington's proclamation of neutrality, and of “Jay's Treaty," had great influence on public opinion, and were highly appreciated. In 1793, he established a daily paper in New York, devoted to the support of General Washington's administration,-a paper still published under the title of the Commercial Advertiser. In 1789, he was married to a daughter of William Greenleaf, Esq., of Boston.
Mr. Webster removed to New Haven in 1798, and in 1807 entered upon the great business of his life,--the compilation of the American Dictionary of the English Langucge. This work, which he was twenty years in completing, amidst various difficulties and discouragements, contains twelve thousand words, and between thirty and forty thousand definitions, are not contained in any preceding work. In the beauty, conciseness, and accuracy of its definitions, and in the department of etymology, it is superior to all other English dictionaries. The learning and ability with which he prosecuted the abstruse and difficult etymological investigations were generally acknowledged, both at home and abroad, and have laid the foundation of a wide-spread and enduring reputation.
The last forty years of his lifo Mr. Webster devoted to literary pursuits, with an ardor rarely seen in any country, and especially in this. His study was his home, his books and pen his constant companions, and his knowledge, to the last, was constantly on the increase. After a short illness, with his faculties unimpaired, in the cheerful retrospect of a lifo of happy and useful employment, and with the fullest consolations of religion, bo expired at New Haven on the 28th of May, 1843, in the eighty-fifth year of his age.2
“It may be said that the name of Noah Webster, from the wide circulation of some of his works, is known familiarly to a greater number of the inhabitants of the United States than the name, probably, of any other individual except the FATHER OF his Country. Whatever influence he thus acquired was used at all times to promote the best interests of his fellow-men. His books, though read by millions, bave made no man worse. To multitudes they have been of lasting benefit, not only by the course of early training they have furnished, but by those precepts of wisdom and virtue with which almost every page is stored."3
His series of papers in support of Jay's Treaty were signed Curtics. 2 Mr. Webster's other publications were,-- Effects of Slavery on Vorals and Industry, 1793 ; a collection of Papers on Political, Literary, and Moral Subjects, 1790, republished 1813 ; A Manual of C'reful Studies, 1932; a work on Pestilential Disenses, 1790 ; A Treatise on the Rights of Neutral Nations in War, 1802.
“ It has been said, and with much truth, that he has held communion with more minds than any other author of modern times. His learning, his assiduity, his piety, his patriotism, were the groundwork of these successful and beneficent labors."--Goodrich's Recollections.
3 From the “Memoir" pretixed to his quarto Dictionary, by Rer. Chauncey A. Goodrich, D.D. It is at length announced that the great and long-promiseil Dictionary of that learned and veteran lexicographer, J. E. Worcester, LL.D., will be ready in October, 1859. It will he embellished with pictorial illustrations, and, as a whole, will, in fulness, in consistent orthography, and in correct orthoëpy, be in advance, doubtless, of any thing of the kind we now bave.
THE HARTFORD CONVENTION.
Few transactions of the federalists, during the early periods of our government, excited so much the angry passions of their opposers as the Hartford Convention—so called—during the presidency of Mr. Madison. As I was present at the first meeting of the gentlemen who suggested such a convention; as I was a member of the House of Representatives in Massachusetts when the resolve was passed for appointing the delegates, and advocated that resolve; and further, as I have copies of the documents, which no other person may have preserved, it seems to be incumbent on me to present to the public the real facts in regard to the origin of the measure, which have been vilely falsified and misrepresented.
After the War of 1812 had continued two years, our public affairs were reduced to a deplorable condition. The troops of the L'nited States, intended for defending the seacoast, had been withdrawn to carry on the war in Canada; a British squadron was stationed in the Sound to prevent the escape of a frigate from the harbor of New London, and to intercept our coasting trade; one town in Maine was in possession of the British forces; the banks south of New England had all suspended the payment of specie; our shipping lay in our harbors, embargoed, dismantled, and perishing; the treasury of the United States was exhausted to the last cent; and a general gloom was spread over the country.
In this condition of affairs, a number of gentlemen in Northampton, in Massachusetts, after consultation, determined to invite some of the principal inhabitants of the three counties on the river, formerly composing the old county of Hampshire, to meet and consider whether any measure could be taken to arrest the continuance of the war, and provide for the public safety.
Many town meetings were held, and with great unanimity addresses and memorials were transmitted to the General Court then in session ; but, as commissioners had been sent to Europe for the purpose of negotiating a treaty of peace, it was judged advisable not to have any action upon them till the result of the negotiation should be known. But during the following summer no news of peace arrived ; and, the distresses of the country increasing, and the seacoast remaining defenceless, Governor Strong summoned a special meeting of the legislature in October, in which the petitions of the towns were taken into consideration, and a resolve was passed appointing delegates to a convention to be held in Hartford. The subsequent history of that convention is known by their report.
The measure of resorting to a convention for the purpose of arresting the evils of a bad administration, roused the jealousy of
the advocates of the war, and called forth the bitterest invectives. The convention was represented as a treasonable combination, originating in Boston, for the purpose of dissolving the Union. But citizens of Boston had no concern in originating the proposal for a convention; it was wholly the project of the people in old Hampshire county, -as respectable and patriotic republicans as ever trod the soil of a free country. The citizens who first assembled in Northampton, convened under the authority of the Bill of Rights, which declares that the people have a right to meet in a peaceable manner and consult for the public safety. The citizens had the same right then to meet in convention as they have now; the distresses of the country demanded extraordinary measures for redress; the thought of dissolving the Union never entered into the head of any of the projectors, or of the members of the Convention; the gentlemen who composed it, for talents and patriotism, have never been surpassed by any assembly in the United States; and beyond a question the appointment of the Hartford Convention had a very favorable effect in hastening the conclusion of a treaty of peace.
All the reports which have been circulated respecting the evil designs of that Convention I know to be the foulest misrepresentations. Indeed, respecting the views of the disciples of Washington and the supporters of his policy, many, and probably most, of the people of the United States in this generation, are made to believe far more falsehood than truth. I speak of facts within my own personal knowledge. We may well say, with the prophet, “ Truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter.” Party spirit produces an unwholesome zeal to depreciate one class of men for the purpose of exalting another. It becomes rampant in propagating slander, which engenders contempt for personal worth and superior excellence; it blunts the sensibility of men to injured reputation ; impairs a sense of honor; banishes the charities of life; debases the moral sense of the community; weakens the motives that prompt men to aim at high attainments and patriotic achievements; degrades national character, and exposes it to the scorn of the civilized world.
ORIGIN OF LANGUAGE.
We read in the Scriptures, that God, when he had created man, “ blessed them; and said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea,” &c. God afterward planted a garden, and placed in it the man he had made, with a command to keep it, and to dress it; and he gave him a rule of moral conduct, in permitting him to eat the fruit of every tree in the garden, except one,