« EelmineJätka »
[Born 1758. Died 1808.]
Fisher Ames was regarded by many of After a service of eight years in Congress, his contemporaries as one of the greatest men on the retirement of Washington he also who had lived in this country. He was the quitted public life. He resided on his farm leader of the federal party in the House of in Dedham, occasionally appearing in the Representatives during the administration of courts, and devoting his leisure to correspondWashington, and was applauded for his elo ence, and the composition of political esquence and learning, the solidity of his judg. says, which, though published anonymously, ment, and the unsullied purity of his public had a powerful influence upon public opinion. and private conduct.
In 1804 he was elected president of Harvard He was born in Dedham, Massachusetts, College, but on account of ill health declined on the ninth of April, 1758; entered Harvard the office. His debility continued gradually College when twelve years of age; took his to increase until the fourth of July, 1808, when degree at sixteen; and in 1781 commenced he died. the practice of the law, having studied his A selection from the speeches, essays and profession in the office of William Tudor. letters of Mr. Ames, with a memoir by his
The ability he had manifested in occasional friend the Rev. Dr. Kirkland, was published public speeches, and in various political con in 1809. His reputation has since that time tributions to the gazettes, in 1788 procured very much decayed, chiefly because the subhim an election to the Massachusetts con- jects upon which he wrote were of temporary vention for ratifying the federal constitution; interest or are seen differently in the light of he was soon after made a member of the state subsequent experience. He regarded the legislature; and the people of Boston chose “ rabble of great cities as the standing army him to be their first representative in the of ambition.” He was fearful of the influCongress of the United States.
ence of popular impulses upon public affairs; His most celebrated speech in this body “the turnpike road of history,” he said, “ is was delivered on the twenty-ninth of April, white with the tombstones of republics" 1796, in support of the Treaty with Great which they have controlled. In France he Britain, which a considerable party was anx saw liberty “stripped of its bloody garments ious to repudiate, although it had been ap to disguise its robbers ;" and with intense atproved by the executive. He was so feeble, tention and alarm watched the progress in from a severe and protracted illness, when he this country of what were called French arose, that it seemed doubtful whether he would opinions. Foreseeing the downfall of the Fee be able to do more than enter a protest against deral party, he feared that the nation would the proposed violation of public faith; but as be engulfed in its ruins. A more hopeful he proceeded he acquired a factitious strength spirit would have made him a happier man, from his enthusiasm, and when he sat down, though perhaps not a more useful citizen. with an allusion to his “slender and almost The most striking quality in the writings broken hold upon life," the effect which had of Ames is their perfect fearlessness. He been produced was so great that a postpone- disdained to flatter the mob. An ultra-demoment of the consideration of the subject was cracy he deemed little better than a hell, and moved on the part of the opposition, lest the dared to say so. Plain speakers are the salt House should act under the influence of feel- of a republic. His speeches were deficient ings which would be condemned by their in method. They were desultory, full of exjudgment. This and his speech on Mr. Ma- amples drawn from history, classical allusion, dison's resolutions, are the only ones of which and learned reflection, and every thing helped we have reports, though he was not an unfre on his argument and deepened his impression.
His letters and essays have the same quali
ties. His works are perhaps overloaded with riods, and his language is always remarkably imagery, but it is so chaste as to be always pure. All his writings are marked in an pleasing, and its profusion never obscures his eminent degree with his individual characmeaning. There is great variety in his pe teristics.
THE OBLIGATION OF TREATIES. very clods where we tread entitled to this ardent FROM A SPEECH ON THE BRITISH TREATY. preference, because they are greener ? No, sir,
this is not the character of the virtue, and it soars Will any man affirm, the American nation is higher for its object. It is an extended self-love, engaged by good faith to the British nation; but mingling with all the enjoyments of life, and that engagement is nothing to this house ? Such twisting itself with the minutest filaments of the a man is not to be reasoned with. Such a doc-heart. It is thus we obey the laws of society, trine is a coat of mail, that would turn the edge because they are the laws of virtue. In their of all the weapons of argument, if they were authority we see, not the array of force and sharper than a sword. Will it be imagined the terror, but the venerable image of our country's king of Great Britain and the president are mu honour. Every good citizen makes that honour tually bound by the treaty; but the two nations his own, and cherishes it not only as precious, are free?....
but as sacred. He is willing to risk his life in its This, sir, is a cause that would be disho defence; and is conscious that he gains protecnoured and betrayed, if I contented myself with tion, while he gives it. For what rights of a citiappealing only to the understanding. It is too zen will be deemed inviolable, when a state recold, and its processes are too slow for the oc nounces the principles that constitute their secucasion. I desire to thank God, that, since herity ? Or, if his life should not be invaded, what has given me an intellect so fallible, he has im- would its enjoyments be in a country odious in pressed upon me an instinct that is sure.
the eyes of strangers, and dishonoured in his own ? question of shame and honour, reasoning is some Could he look with affection and veneration to times useless, and worse. I feel the decision in such a country as his parent? The sense of havmy pulse: if it throws no light upon the brain, iting one would die within him; he would blush kindles a fire at the heart.
for his patriotism, if he retained any, and justly, It is not easy to deny, it is impossible to doubt, for it would be a vice : he would be a banished that a treaty imposes an obligation on the Ame man in his native land. rican nation. It would be childish to consider the I see no exception to the respect that is paid president and senate obliged, and the nation and among nations to the law of good faith. If there house free. What is the obligation ? perfect or are cases in this enlightened period when it is imperfect? If perfect, the debate is brought to a violated, there are none when it is decried. It conclusion. If imperfect, how large a part of our is the philosophy of politics, the religion of faith is pawned? Is half our honour put at risk, governments. It is observed by barbarians: a and is that half too cheap to be redeemed? How whiff of tobacco smoke, or a string of beads, long has this hair-splitting subdivision of good faith gives not merely binding force, but sanctity to been discovered, and why has it escaped the re treaties. Even in Algiers, a truce may be bought searches of the writers on the law of nations ? for money ; but, when ratified, even Algiers is too Shall we add a new chapter to that law; or insert wise or too just to disown and annul its obligathis doctrine as a supplement to, or more properly tion. Thus we see, neither the ignorance of saa repeal of the ten commandments ?....
vages, nor the principles of an association for On every hypothesis, the conclusion is not to be privacy and rapine, permit a nation to despise its resisted: we are either to execute this treaty, or engagements. If, sir, there could be a resurrecbreak our faith.
tion from the foot of the gallows, if the victims of To expatiate on the value of public faith may justice could live again, collect together and form a pass with some men for declamation: to such society, they would, however loath, soon find them. men I have nothing to say. To others I will urge, selves obliged to make justice, that justice under can any circumstance mark upon a people more which they fell, the fundamental law of their state, turpitude and debasement? Can any thing tend They would perceive it was their interest to make more to make men think themselves mean, or de- others respect, and they would therefore soon pay grade to a lower point their estimation of virtue some respect themselves to the obligations of good and their standard of action? It would not mere faith. ly demoralize mankind; it tends to break all the It is painful, I hope it is superfluous, to make ligaments of society, to dissolve that mysterious even the supposition, that America should furnish charm which attracts individuals to the nation, the occasion of this opprobrium. No, let me and to inspire in its stead a repulsive sense of not even imagine, that a republican government, shame and disgust.
sprung, as our own is, from a people enlightened What is patriotism? Is it a narrow affection and uncorrupted, a government whose origin is for the spot where a man was born? Are the right, and whose daily discipline is duty, can, upon
solemn debate, make its option to be faithless ; can any proportion to my zeal, I would swell my voice dare to act what despots dare not avow, what our to such a note of remonstrance, it should reach own example evinces the states of Barbary are every log house beyond the mountains. I would unsuspected of. No, let me rather make the suppo- say to the inhabitants, wake from your false secusition, that Great Britain refuses to execute the rity: your cruel dangers, your more cruel appretreaty, after we have done everything to carry it hensions are soon to be renewed: the wounds, into effect. Is there any lan lage of reproach yet unhealed, are to be torn open again; in the pungent enough to express your commentary on day time, your path through the woods will be the fact ? What would you say, or, rather, what ambushed; the darkness of midnight will glitter with would you not say ? Would you not tell them, the blaze of your dwellings. You are a fatherwherever an Englishman might travel, shame the blood of your sons shall fatten your corn-field: would stick to him: he would disown his coun- you are a mother—the warhoop shall wake the try. You would exclaim, England, proud of your sleep of the cradle. wealth, and arrogant in the possession of power,
On this subject you need not suspect any deblush for these distinctions, which become the ve- ception on your feelings: it is a spectacle of horhicles of your dishonour. Such a nation might ror, which cannot be overdrawn. If you have natruly say to corruption, thou art my father, and to ture in your hearts, they will speak a language, the worm, thou art my mother and my sister. We compared with which all I have said or can say should say of such a race of men, their name is a will be poor and frigid..... heavier burden than their debt.
Will any one deny, that we are bound, and I I can scarcely persuade myself to believe, that would hope to good purpose, by the most solemn the consideration I have suggested requires the sanctions of duty for the vote we give ? Are desaid of any auxiliary ; but, unfortunately, auxiliary | pots alone to be reproached for unfecling indiffer. arguments are at hand.....
ence to the tears and blood of their subjects? Are The refusal of the posts—inevitable if we re- republicans unresponsible? Have the principles, ject the treaty* -is a measure too decisive in its on which you ground the reproach upon cabinets nature to be neutral in its consequences. From and kings, no practical influence, no hinding force! great causes we are to look for great effects. ....Are they merely themes of idle declamation, inWill the tendency to Indian hostilities be contested troduced to decorate the morality of a newspaper by any one? Experience gives the answer. The essay, or to furnish pretty topics of harangue from frontiers were scourged with war, until the nego- the windows of that state-house? I trust it is tiation with Great Britain was far advanced; and neither too presumptuous nor too late to ask: Can then the state of hostility ceased. Perhaps the you put the dearest interest of society at risk, withpublic agents of both nations are innocent of fo- out guilt, and without remorse ?.... menting the Indian war, and perhaps they are not. There is no mistake in this case: there can be We ought not, however, to expect that neighbour- none: experience has already been the prophet of ing nations, highly irritated against each other, events, and the cries of our future victims have al. will neglect the friendship of the savages. The ready reached us. The western inhabitants are traders will gain an influence, and will abuse it; not a silent and uncomplaining secrifice. The and who is ignorant that their passions are easily voice of humanity issues from the shade of the raised and hardly restrained from violence? Their wilderness: it exclaims, that, while one hand is situation will oblige them to choose between this held up to reject this treaty, the other grasps a to country and Great Britain, in case the treaty mahawk. It summons our imagination to the should be rejected: they will not be our friends, scenes that will open. It is no great effort of the and at the same time the friends of our enemies.... imagination to conceive that events so near are al
If any, against all these proofs, should main ready begun. I can fancy that I listen to the yells tain, that the peace with the Indians will be stable of savage vengeance and the shrieks of torture: without the posts, to them I will urge another re- already they seem to sigh in the western wind: ply. From arguments calculated to procure con- already they mingle with every echo from the viction, I will appeal directly to the hearts of those mountains..... who hear me, and ask whether it is not already Let me cheer the mind, weary and ready to deplanted there? I resort especially to the convic- spond on this prospect, by presenting another tions of the Western gentlemen, whether, sup
which it is yet in our power to realize. Is it posposing no posts and no treaty, the settlers will re- sible for a real American to look at the prosperity main in security? Can they take it upon them of this country, without some desire for its conto say, that an Indian peace, under these circum- tinuance, without some respect for the measures stances, will prove firm? No, sir, it will not be which many will say produced, and all will conpeace, but a sword; it will be no better than a lure fess have preserved it? Will he not feel some to draw victims within the reach of the tomahawk. dread, that a change of system will reverse the
On this theme, my emotions are unutterable. scene? The well grounded fears of our citizens, If I could find words for them, if my powers bore in 1794, were removed by the treaty, but are not
forgotten. Then they deemed war nearly in
evitable, and would not this adjustment have been * By the treaty, certain western posts, necessary to the protection of the frontier, were to be surrendered
considered at that day as a happy escape from the calamity? The great interest and the general de
by the British.- Editor.
FROM REVIEW OF THE PRESENT STATE OF THE BRITISH
sire of our people was to enjoy the advantages of FREEDOM OF THE PRESS AND neutrality. This instrument, however misrepre
LIBERTY. sented, affords America that inestimable security. The causes of our disputes are either cut up by the roots, or referred to a new negotiation, after the end of the European war. This was gaining We are, heart and soul, friends to the freedom every thing, because it confirmed our neutrality, of the press. It is however, the prostituted comby which our citizens are gaining every thing. panion of liberty, and somehow or other, we know This alone would justify the engagements of the
not how, its efficient auxiliary. It follows the government. For, when the fiery vapours of the substance like its shade ; but while a man walks war lowered in the skirts of our horizon, all our
erect, he may observe, that his shadow is almost wishes were concentrated in this one, that we
always in the dirt. It corrupts, it deceives, it inmight escape the desolation of the storm. This
flames. It strips virtue of her honours, and lends treaty, like a rainbow on the edge of the cloud, to faction its wildfire and its poisoned arms, and marked to our eyes the space where it was raging, in the end is its own enemy and the usurper's ally. and afforded at the same time the sure prognostic It would be easy to enlarge on its evils. They of fair weather. If we reject it, the vivid colours are in England, they are here, they are everywill grow pale, it will be a baleful meteor portend-where. It is a precious pest and a necessary mising tempest and war. ....
I rose to speak under impressions that I would chief, and there would be no liberty without it. have resisted if I could. Those who see me will believe, that the reduced state of my health has unfitted me, almost equally, for much exertion of
LIBERTY NOT SECURED BY THE body or mind. Unprepared for debate by careful
DEATH OF TYRANTS. Teflection in my retirement, or by long attention here, I thought the resolution I had taken, to sit FROM AN ESSAY ON THE CHARACTER OF BRUTUS. silent, was imposed by necessity, and would cost me no effort to maintain. With a mind thus va- It is not by destroying tyrants, that we are to cant of ideas, and sinking, as I really am, under a extinguish tyranny: nature is not thus to be exsense of weakness, I imagined the very desire of hausted of her power to produce them. The soil speaking was extinguished by the persuasion that of a republic sprouts with the rankest fertility: it I had nothing to say. Yet when I come to the has been sown with dragon's teeth. To lessen moment of deciding the vote, I start back with the hopes of usurping demagogues, we must endread from the edge of the pit into which we are lighten, animate, and combine the spirit of freeplunging. In my view, even the minutes I have
men; we must fortify and guard the constitutional spent in expostulation have their value, because
ramparts about liberty. When its friends become they protract the crisis, and the short period in indolent or disheartened, it is no longer of any which alone we may resolve to escape it.
importance how long-lived are its enemies : they I have thus been led by my feelings to speak will prove immortal. more at length than I had intended. Yet I have perhaps as little personal interest in the event as any one here. There is, I believe, no member, who will not think his chance to be a witness of
GREAT MEN THE GLORY OF THEIR the consequences greater than mine. If, however,
COUNTRY. the vote should pass to reject, and a spirit should rise, as it will, with the public disorders to make “ confusion worse confounded,” even I, slender and almost broken as my hold upon life is, may outlive the government and constitution of my The most substantial glory of a country is in country.
its virtuous great men: its prosperity will depend on its docility to learn from their example. That
nation is fated to ignominy and servitude, for INTELLECT IN A DEMOCRACY.
which such men have lived in vain. Power may
be seized by a nation, that is yet barbarous; and INTELLECTUAL superiority is so far from con- wealth may be enjoyed by one, that it finds, or ciliating confidence, that it is the very spirit of a renders sordid: the one is the gift and the sport democracy, as in France, to proscribe the aristo- of accident, and the other is the sport of power. cracy of talents
. To be the favourite of an igno- Both are mutable, and have passed away withrant multitude, a man must descend to their level; out leaving behind them any other memorial he must desire what they desire, and detest all than ruins that offend taste, and traditions that they do not approve: he must yield to their pre-baffle conjecture. But the glory of Greece is judices, and substitute them for principles. In- imperishable, or will last as long as learning stead of enlightening their errors, he must adopt itself
, which is its monument: it strikes an them; he must furnish the sophistry that will pro- everlasting root, and leaves perennial blossoms pagate and defend them.
on its grave.
FROM A SKETCH OF THE CHARACTER OF ALEXANDER
FROM AN ESSAY OX AMERICAN LITERATURE
JOHN QUINCY ADAMS.
[Born 1767. Died 1848.]
Colonel John Quincy, who was born in When Mr. George M. Dallas, soon after 1687, and in his long life had shared largely returning from his mission to Russia, was in the civil and military distinctions of the looking over the manuscript papers of his colonies, was dying, on Saturday evening, the father, in Philadelphia, he discovered a packeleventh of July, 1767, when word was age so carefully sealed as evidently to have brought that a great-grandson was born to been deemed of some consequence, and openhim in the house of John Adams. In honour ing it discovered that it was the autograph of the departed veteran that part of the town of copy of an oration on banking and currency Braintree in which he resided was afterward delivered by Mr. Adams on the day of his called Quincy, and the boy was named John graduation. It had been listened to by Dr. Quincy Adams. These two lives have extend- Belknap, the historian, and Mr. Alexander J. ed over nearly one hundred and sixty years. Dallas, who were so pleased with its original
A large portion of the youth of Mr. Adams and profound views that they addressed a note was spent in travel, in the company of his to the young author requesting a copy for pubeminent father, and perhaps no statesman was lication. It was the first of his printed writever in all respects more fortunate in the cir- | ings. cumstances of his education. In 1778 and After leaving Cambridge Mr. Adams enthe following year he was at school in Paris, tered on the study of the law with the celeand in this period he received the paternal care brated Theophilus Parsons at Newburyport, of Franklin, who was a joint commissioner and on being admitted to the bar removed with his father to the court of Versailles. In to Boston, where he was four years engaged 1780 he was placed in the public school of in the business of his profession, and in the Amsterdam, and subsequently in the Univer discussion of various questions of politics sity of Leyden. In July, 1781, Francis Dana, through the gazettes. Under the signature of -father of our admirable author of that name, Publicola he replied to the first part of Paine's and afterward chief justice of Massachusetts,– Rights of Man, and under that of Marcellus, was appointed minister to Russia ; and have anticipating Washington's proclamation of ing accompanied John Adams to Holland, and neutrality, urged the foreign policy which was observed the abilities and accomplishments of subsequently adopted by the first administrahis son, then but fourteen years of age, he tion. In the same period he also published selected him to be his private secretary. He a series of papers vindicating the conduct of remained in St. Petersburgh with Mr. Dana the president in regard to Genet, the French until October, 1782, and passed the following minister. Thus commended by his writings, winter in travelling through Sweden, Den as well as by his known acquaintance with mark, Hamburg and Bremen, to the Hague, international law and with our foreign relawhere he rejoined his father, whom he accom tions, he was selected by Washington to be panied to Paris, where he was present at the the American minister to the Netherlands; signing of the definitive treaty of peace, and and in the seven years from 1794 to 1801 to London, where he listened to the eloquence he was employed in diplomatic services. of Burke, Pitt, Fox, Sheridan, and the other One of the last official acts of Washington great orators then in Parliament. In his was to appoint him minister to Portugal; but eighteenth year he returned to the United while on his way to Lisbon his destination States to complete his education; entered was changed to Berlin, by his father, who Harvard University, at an advanced standing; had just succeeded to the presidency, and to and in 1787 received the degree of Bachelor whom Washington wrote on the subject that of Arts.
it was his “decided opinion that John Quincy