« السابقةمتابعة »
ought to be made upon the treasury. The money of the nation seems to be reserved for other uses.
The incorporation of a university, without funds, appears a fruitless and inefficient exercise of the legislative power. There is indeed some personal estate on hand, which would vest in such a body, on the moment of its creation. And more may reasonably be expected from legacies and other donations. But these sources of revenue are too scanty and precarious to be relied upon, in the present case. It is better not to legislate at all, than to pass a statute destitute of the means of execution.
The matter then stands thus: The erection of a university upon the enlarged and magnificent plan, which would become the nation, is not within the powers confided by the constitution to congress. And the crection of a small and ordinary college, with a pompous and imposing title, would not become its dignity. If nevertheless, at any time, legislative aid should be asked to incorporate a district university, for the local benefit of the inhabitants of Columbia, out of funds of their own raising, there can be no doubt that it would be considered with kindness, as in other cases. But it must be remembered, that this is a function totally distinct from the endowment of a national university, out of the treasure of the United States, destined in its legitimate application, to other and very different purposes.
The message before the committee, proposes however, the institution of a seminary of learning by the national legislature, within the limits of their exclusive jurisdiction, the expense of which may be defrayed or reimbursed out of the vacant grounds which have accrued to the nation, within these limits.' On inquiring into the value of these public lots, they fall so far short of the sum requisite for the object, that if there was no constitutional impediment, they could not be relied upon, on account of the smallness and unproductiveness of the capital they embrace.
With these views of the subject, the committee does not find itself authorised to recommend the adoption of any measures, relative to the part of the message referred.
In behalf of the committee,
SAML. L. MITCHILL, Chairman. FOR THE PORT FOLIO. THE RECLUSE. No. II.
Mais pour moi, de la ville citoyen inhabile,
Boileau, Epître à M. De la Moignou.
when the weather is fair, after tea, I picked up my wooden port-folio, or what I have ventured to christen my knee-desk, and took my usual ramble on the Range. This method of pursuing my studies, and at the same time, of inhaling the afternoon breezes from the surrounding hills, has become of so confirmed a habit with me, that it will be no matter of wonder at all, if hereafter, the monthly bulk of original matter in your Port Folio should be sensibly influenced by the use I make of mine. Whence, by a little step for a genius of a moderately speculative turn, it would be an easy matter for any
of your readers, at a distance of many hundred miles, to ascertain, with indubitable clearness, what kind of weather has prevailed during every month of the three seasons favourable to walking, on the western side of the Beautiful River.* I drop without comment this hint for the improvement of the art of making meteorological observations at a distance to be taken up on some future occasion, when the weather is fair; and no other subject shall present itself as a more suitable candidate to fill a number of
my series. At present, I have certainly other designs in my head, than to be led out into an eccentric or volatile excursion, according to the freak of the moment. For whilst I seated myself this evening, upon the oak-slab which has served me through all my ruminations this summer (in lieu of a more stylish settee) and was mending my pen, the subject of the present lucubration presented itself in waiting, and obtained my gracious consent to be dressed up and despatched to the metropolis. Wherefore, according to the order prescribe to myself for these occasions,
* Ohio signifies Beautiful.
I embark into the consideration of the question respecting that kind of life which the appellation I have adopted implies.
I cauticusly avoid recurring to out-door opinions, as a clew to lead me through the labyrinth of my present investigation. For, although it would be an easy matter to furnish myself with much matter pro and con, froin almost any volume picked out of my library at random, yet my mind would derive little satisfaction froin the contradictory sentiments of those, who were governed in their choice of life by the peculiar complexion of their own character and affairs. For example, it has been said, on the one side, that the love of solitude is the offspring of chagrin caused by shame or ridicule; that the passions of men, irritated by solitude, hover round these regions of death and silence; that nobody eulogises solitude but he who despairs of cutting a figure at court; that the spirit of man is an active principle, and therefore he that withdraws himself from the world, before he has finished the part he had to act, deserves to be hissed, and cannot pass for virtuous, because he refuses to continue on to the catastrophe; that the worst of men is he, who, per'sisting in shutting himself up in a closet, contracts his heart more and more within himself; and Diderot (I think) declares very roundly that the good man lives in society whilst none but the bad chooses to live alone. On the other hand, we are told that every kind of evil proceeds from not being able to live alone--such as gaming, debaucheries, dissipations, ignorance, slander, envy, forgetfulness of ourselves and duties. Who, asks some writer, has ever felt the sublime of a solitary desert? How rapturous to listen in the stillness of solitude! How happy is the man who knows how to live with himself, to find pleasure in his own company! I think the venerable Montaigne says, that it is no small matter to manage well one's retreat from the bustle of life, and that to do so affords employment enough without inixing other business with it. If Providence confers upon us leisure to dispose of ourselves by living in retirement, let us make preparations for it, get our baggage ready, take an early leave of our company, and disentangle ourselves from those pur
suits which, by detaining our attention, keep us at a distance from ourselves. La Fontaine makes one of his characters declare that the true greatness of the philosopher is to reign over himself, and his true pleasure to enjoy himself: this greatness and this pleasure are to be found in solitude, and scarcely any where else. I do not, continues he, pretend to say that this kind of life is suitable for every body; to me it is a comfort and a blessing; for you it might be an evil.
If I had not promised to wave the weight of authorities, in trying this question, I would rally round the concluding sentiment of La Fontaine, which leaves room for a very liberal decision. When I cast my eyes around, how am I struck with the diversity of human characters and pursuits, the disparity of their fortunes, and the difference in their expectations! Before we minutely pry into the minor subdivisions of society, the first distinct classification of the great mass of mankind appears to be three-fold. The sons and daughters of Pleasure may be thrown together in one group, resembling an English rout of the better dressed and more fashionable ones of the various nations of the world. The second class is made up of the indefatigables, constant in their devotions at the shrine of Mammon, and bent under the weight of their cares. In the third parcel we behold a motley collection of the rotaries of Ambition, who from various motives, and under different appearances are driving, at full speed, through every avenue of human society. Now the simple question, under my present view of these things, is, why any individual of either of these three great crowds may not retire from the common bustle and hide himself like the Recluse, in the woods? If he have borne a part in this tumultuous farrago until he is tired out, or disgusted with his own dull repetitions, is he not at liberty to sit down and rest; or turn aside from the commotion and endeavour to cure the blisters 'which the dance has brought upon his feet? This is to be diseased with St. Vitus's dance, with a vengeance, if he must continue to dance on, rain or shine, contrary to his own inclination!
Does it follow that I must necessarily be refractory or defuded by a wrong spirit because I 10 longer have vicws of life,
common to others? With their associations and entanglements it would not be well, nay, it might be criminal for them to leave their posts and their duties. But circumstances alter cases, and if I fly to the shades of retirement with as much alacrity as they to their merchandize, are we not both governed by the same arbitrary laws of volition? Neither am I much alarmed by the gravity of those reprovers, who put their ingenuity to the torture to invent what they call social duties, in order to saddle me with burthens that belong not to my shoulders. Every man, say these wise censors, possesses a talent which he is bound to employ to the best advantage, for the help of his fellow beings, and for the melioration of their several conditions. This I am willing to acknowledge, although, at the same time, it must not be denied that the doctrine is urged with a very bad grace by those whose practical employment of their respective talents appears to be confined to the accumulation of riches and the aggrandizement of themselves! They ought to bear in mind, that upon their system of ethics which recognizes self-love and social to be the same, and which justifies their own laborious exertions for private emolument, the hermit's inactive seclusion from the common walks of business, may at least be pardoned. Take a view of one man, who upon a fortune of his own acquiring, or another, who, upon the unincumbered patrimony derived from his wealthy predecessors, retires into the bosom of a family all of whom are partial to this doctrine of social enjoyments and friendly intercourse, but who are governed in every act of their lives by selfish considerations. Lolling at ease upon the soft couch of sensual gratifications, or lounging away their hours in literary frivolities, shall it be said that the holy cause of Benevolence is indebted to them for all the clamour they can raise against those who desert one station in life for another, from a diffidence of their own qualifications only? I have suspected that if the real motives for such virulent reprehensions of a retired life as I have been contemplating, were accurately traced, it would he found that human vanity acts as a spur to all this zeal. Man, however foud of "banquetting upon his own perfections," is not satisfied with being the solitary gaser upon the splendour