صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

tract, (unusual in political writing,) and the interest of it is of no moment whether it be true! It is no justifthe public in the subject, invited general attention at cation to reply, that the reviewer does not positively the time. The reviewer has culled from Major Lee, assert it; that he only hints it That aggravates the and repeated him in a bad form. Mr. Jefferson had Aagitious intention. The bare imputation has the effect addressed to Mr. Van Buren an explanation of the of proof. In this nice point of honor and character, susletter to Mazzei, and Professor Tucker has enlarged picion disgraces. The reviewer does no credit to his the defence. The charge was, that by the letter, he own feelings, and shows no modest respect for other had stabbed the reputation of Washington, for whom, men's sentiments, when he pronounces cowardice a personally and publicly, he professed friendship. Mr. thing so very immaterial. Truth and courage are at Jefferson's defence substantially is—that he never meant the foundation of all that gives dignity and elevation to to include Washington among the monarchists; nor character; they are closely allied to the “whole line of among the “Samsons in the field, and Solomons in the masculine virtues.” High and heroic courage is a council,” and that his letter has no direct mention nur godlike quality. I mean not a mere physical rigidity indirect allusion to General Washington, except the of nerve, a stupid insensibility, but that moral principle passage which speaks of the “executive” as opposed which raises us superior to the sense of danger, which to the democratic party. In this there was no reproach. is the first and to the fear of death, which is the most It was notoriety then, and it is history now. In fact powerful instinct of nature. In modern Europe, and we see nothing in that letter, which General Washing- since the time of chivalry, courage and truth have been ton's best friend, if of opposite politics, might not have the point of honor among the cultivated classes. Senwritten in all faith and friendship. The interpretation timents interwoven into our language, our manners, comes at last to a question of veracity; nor do we see, our very moral constitution, and the whole framework how, in any possible way, the meaning of such lan- of society, are not to be blown away by the breath of a guage can be ascertained but by the declaration of the sermon, or of a **** review, writer. The reviewer finds no force in such testimony; In Mr. Jefferson's particular case, it may be enough he does, of course, reject the averment of a man whom to say, that he lived amid circumstances sure to unfold he would not credit on his oath. In this way, Mr. that weakness, had it been inherent in his temper; he Jefferson's evidence in this court of critical justice is lived during a national war, and in a very agitated treated as the law treats a felon whose infamy is proved period afterwards, in the thick of party contentions, by a record of conviction and sentence.

and all the passions they engender. He never was The letters to Burr show that at different times Mr. found unequal to any crisis of affairs, but was esteemed Jefferson thought and spoke of him in a different man- the boldest political leader of the times. His conduct ner, as he was more or less acquainted with Burr's char- of the campaign against Arnold in Virginia cannot now acter and conduct--that he wrote him a letter of com- be examined, for the facts are not known ; while it is pliment, and designed him for a cabinet office. The easy to criminate and difficult to disprove. He received former, in their situation, was merely a common decency. the deliberate thanks of the Legislature of Virginia. The latter was in deference to party and public senti- And we know no better way to judge of events which ment; a principle which, under our government, must have passed, and which are otherwise but imperfectly always govern appointments to office. The accidents known to us, than by some respectful attention to the of political life placed these nien together, and they judgment of contemporaries: such modesty is quite as acted together. The politician who would consent to commendable, and as instructive too, as that other act only with those whose personal characters and con- spirit which arrogates all wisdom to ourselves, and duct squared to his own tastes, would be useless and shows us all other men and times wrapped in ignorance. impracticable, and must soon remove himself from all The author of the Declaration of Independence is the means and occasions of public service. He would charged with shameful literary dishonesty, in taking be forced to retire and leave the way to others. Mr. ideas and phrases for that occasion from other stateJefferson contributed in no degree to Col. Burr's eleva- papers and political writings; and for proof of this, tion. That was his own work. He built up and pulled the reviewer compares the National Declaration with the down his own political fortunes, without any aid from Mecklenburg Declaration and with the Preamble to the Mr. Jefferson, beyond the accidental party circumstan- Old Constitution of Virginia. This Preamble Professor ces of the times. Nothing appears in the connection Tucker says was written by Mr. Jefferson; of which of Jefferson and Burr, but what is common to the lives fact so positively asserted, the reviewer chooses to of most public men. When Burr afterwards stood as doubt; because, he “infers," that Mr. Wythe, to whom, a state-criminal, the conduct of the executive in provi- it is said, Mr. Jefferson sent the paper, was not then in ding for his trial and pressing his condemnation, was Virginia, but at Philadelphia. This is his single reason. no doubt the dictate of his judgment of Burr's guilt, It was a sarcasm of Junius, that “some men are infidels and of the danger and magnitude of the occasion. in religion, who are bigots in politics.” The converse

The list of “defects” (the word is the reviewer's) may sometimes be true. But this reviewer's skeptiends in cowardice. This item is thrown in to make up cism and bigotry are not so well marked and separated. that general sum, that compound mass of qualities, What better proof can there be of authorship? Mr. principles, opinions and conduct, which, according to the Jefferson always claimed it, and no one else ever did; reviewer, forms private character. He says, indeed, it and from that day it has been so received in Virginia. is “of no moment” whether Mr. Jefferson was a That he wrote the National Declaration of Indepen“coward or not.” There is a delightful candor in dence, and the Preamble to the Constitution of Virginia, this sort of proceeding. To charge a man with the is known by the same kind and amount of evidence. meanest and most disreputable infirmity, and then say The subject of this Preamble was identical with

what is now called the list of grievances in the Declara- 1 burg writer. Both reasoners easily find what they wish tion. The same mind employed to express the same to discover. The first three certainly are not Mr. Jefthoughts, must naturally fall into the same mode. To ferson's—they were perhaps in common use at the time. avoid it scrupulously, must be a laborious trifling of They are the language of the resolutions by which vanity and affectation.

Richard Henry Lee moved the Declaration ;-which In 1819, forty years after the event, the Mecklenburg were—"That these united colonies are, and of right Declaration came to the knowledge of ex-president ought to be, free and independent states; that they are Adams, who, surprised and perplexed, wrote to Mr. absolved from all allegiance to the British crown; that all Jefferson—"How is it possible that this paper should political connexion between them and the state of Great be concealed from me to this day ? Had it been com- Britain is and ought to be totally dissolved,” &c. municated, &c. &c. it would have been printed in every We have now examined the whole article in the New whig newspaper upon the continent. I would have York Review of Mr. Jefferson. Some of those charges made the Hall of Congress echo and re-echo with it fif- are repeated, and in a more invective form, in the Januleen months before your Declaration of Independence.” ary No. of 1838, in the article on Davis's Burr. These Mr. Jefferson replied, that, “ he believed it spurious.” two articles are from the same political clerk and clerical And after giving his reasons, drawn from the character politician. The spirit is preserved, but the style is a of the evidence which supported it, he proceeds little changed with the title of the work. It is no longer “When Mr. Henry's resolutions, far short of indepen- the “Quarterly Church Journal.” The church device dence, flew like lightning through every paper, and is stricken from their banner; and having thrown off kindled both sides of the Atlantic, this naming Declara- their clerical incumbrances, surplice, cassock, and all, tion, &c. although sent to Congress, is never heard of, and got a party uniform, these gentlemen return to the It is not even known a twelve month after, when a similar old political scuffle with a good deal more fierceness. proposition is first made in that body. Armed with this Our soldier, in particular, flourishes in the field like a bold example, would not you have addressed our timid Bishop of Beauvais. brethren in peals of thunder ? Would not every advo We thought the party malice of the federal journalist cate of independence have rung the glories of the and political divine was too concentrated for diffusion ; Mecklenburg Declaration ?” &c. &c.

that his phial was emptied on Mr. Jefferson. But his Now we ask how is it possible that this paper, if it January number pours a full stream on Burr; whom he reached Congress, was concealed ? Did the North Caro- subjects, in the test of character, to the same sort of lina representatives suppress it? With what a weapon analysis. First, he settles his religion, then his morals, would it have armed the whigs! The charge against and then his politics; the whole sparkling with critical Mr. Jefferson, supposes that this remarkable paper eloquence and personal denunciation, much after this became known to him particularly and alone of the fashion. Burr is styled an “unprincipled, and almost General Congress; not to Adams and others of that peerless villain ;” and afterwards, more figuratively, body, at that time more distinguished ; that he con a wretch whom purity would scarce look at, much less cealed it, (though how he prevented it from reaching touch.” “We would we knew a word stronger than others is inconceivable,) because he found in it four ex- any the language affords, which might express the conpressions of remarkable rhetorical excellence, which he centrated wickedness of a thousand villanies compressed might use for some future state paper; which occasion into one; some little syllabic formation which might did, a year after, present itself in the National Declara- convey with comprehensive brevity the idea of a devil's tion of Independence. This is the reviewer's charge, spirit linked to a brute's propensities; and verily,” he with all its absurdities and improbabilities. Mr. Jones proceeds more jocosely, "Burr should have the benefit of North Carolina has made these Mecklenburg pro- of it.” After this con amore sketch, where, in his railceedings the subject of a book of invective on Mr. ing, our language breaks down under him, he returns Jefferson. But this notion of the plagiarism was too to Mr. Jefferson, and declares, p. 210, that “a good man silly for his adoption. The four expressions which would long hesitate in his choice, were he forced upon constitute all the verbal likeness of the two papers, the hard alternative of being either Thomas Jefferson, or are—“dissolve the political bands which have con- Aaron Burr.” Here we have the eminent citizen and nected"-"absolve from all allegiance to the British President of the Republic, who lived and died in the crown”—“are, and of right ought to be”—“pledge to unbounded devotion of the whole American people, each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor." branded as a "peerless villain"_"a wretch whom pu. They are a slight temptation to a literary theft. The rity would scarce look at”—"a devil and a brute."* first is periphrastical and incorrect; the second and And this is the way a living clergyman talks of a dead third have no remarkable elegance ; and a better than patriot. It was not in this style his political enemies the last may be found on any page of any classic of wrote his funeral oration; it was not with such sentiour language. Did Mr. Jefferson think to build a lite ments Daniel Webster exclaimed, “ We would have rary fame on four lucky phrases? and was this the borne him upward in a nation's outspread arms, and ambition of a man engaged in great affairs, and 10 with the prayers of millions and the blessings of milwhose hands were committed the destinies of a people? lions, have recommended him to the favor of the Divi

Both the professor and his reviewer marked these nity.” Let the American people learn from the New expressions, and both determined that their appearance York Church Review what a crime-stained monster in the two papers could not have been accidental. But has been the god of their political idolatry. they differ as to the right of property; the professor One extract more-the conclusion on Burr-to show giving them to Mr. Jefferson, and the reviewer (equally

* P. 202, we have a “viper"--" the cowardly chronicle of faithful to his own side) giving them to the Mecklen-I his posthumous slander,” &c. &c.

somewhat more of the temper of the whole. The stylethe general opinion of their countrymen then, and what is Counsellor Phillips' run mad, but the sentiments are is that opinion now? Mr. Madison may be allowed as like the rest. It is meant for fine writing, and was, no a competent judge. He had tried Hamilton's strength doubt, a matured and digested passage. It is of Burr. in every form, and did full justice to his ability; but “He lay a shattered wreck of humanity just entering declared, that in the gradation of intellect, there were upon eternity, with not enough of man left about him, many orders, between such a mind and Mr. Jefferson's. to make a christian out of. [!!!] Ruined in fortune and Judge the men loo, by what they attempted and accomrotten in reputation, thus passed,” &c. &c.—and “when plished. Jay, after his treaty, retired from public life. he was laid in the grave, decency congratulated itself But Hamilton lived on, in political struggles, and polithat a nuisance was removed, and good men were glad tical defeats; while Mr. Jefferson triumphed, and from that God had seen fit to deliver society from the con president to president of his party, led the political taminating contact of a festering mass of moral putre- opinions of his country through twenty-four years. A faction."

man who passes through life unimpressive as a shadow, This is like an hyena ; it is the rancorous malignity may be gifted with higher powers than he who governs of a fiend. There is nothing human in this chuckling the mind of his age; but, of this, we can only reason over a deathbed, a miserable, deserted deathbed, and a in the spirit of the Latin maxim, and infer that only to dishonored grave. Surely that ambitious, and singu- exist, which appears.* But these reviewers judge men larly worldly-minded man must, in his own feelings, in and things by the illumination of a higher wisdom— his political prostration, and his deep personal abase which teaches them to know that the race is never to ment, have sufficiently avenged his enemies. No mat- the swift, and to believe whatever is contrary to facts ter what his errors and crimes were; a feeling man and probable evidence. would pity as well as condemn, while he regarded his The New York Church Quarterly cannot be regarded elevation and his fall; and a just man would decide as the most valuable gift that Divinity has bequeathed that his misery was punishment enough. How a man to politics. The habit of taking a little verse of text, of religion regards all these circumstances, we charita- and wire-drawing it into a sermon, makes weak and bly take it, the New York reviewer is no example. diffusive writers. The labor of writing about nothing,

This article on Burr quotes from Davis a detailed disqualifies them to write well about any thing. But account of the opening of the ballots before Congress in were it otherwise, — were it the direct reverse of this the presidential election of 1801; in which is stated— review,--no learning or eloquence, not even Milton and that the votes presented for Georgia were not authenti- Salmasius, could reconcile us to the revival of the yul. cated; and that, notwithstanding, Mr. Jefferson passed gar and atrocious railing, which was the old language them for himself and Burr. The reviewer thinks, of church controversy. We therefore hope that the “there was nothing in Mr. Jefferson's character to tempting opportunities of this Review, and the ambirender the story improbable ;” but that the testimony of tion of that sort of reputation may not turn the New an anonymous witness is insufficient evidence. He York ministry into a set of political and pamphleteering might have found, in the very statement, a conclusive clerics. refutation of it, made as sure as human testimony can make any thing. The circumstances are these. This unknown witness of Mr. Davis' "secret history" says he had it from Nicholas and Wells, two of the tellers. If the fact be true, then four perjuries were committed; GENERAL HUGH MERCER. by the three tellers and the presiding officer-for with all it was a violation the grossest, of their oath of office. Among the many acts of tyranny and oppresTwo of them afterwards confess their infamy, in the sion, which exiled from Britain her noblest sons, way of babbling gossip and secret history, to a man in and which crowded the forests of America with an New York, who furnishes it for the enduring record educated and enterprising population, was the and eternal blazon of Davis' biography. Wells too was memorable battle of Culloden. The dull pen of a federalist; yet he sinned against his oath, and all his political feelings and interests. Rutledge, of South history slumbers over the details of that terrific Carolina-an honorable and distinguished man-he too

conflict, while romance has caught from it some colluded!! These monstrous improbabilities are in. of the proudest examples of virtue, patriotism volved in this libel. Yet it is welcomed by the reviewer, and chivalry. The Stuarts’ throne was filled by a who calls on Davis to produce his witness !-- In the sullen and phlegmatic race—the unholy union January No. of the Democratic Review, published at with England; a nation's birthright prostituted Washington, is given a copy of the Georgia ballot, to sale by a hireling parliament—the burnings, taken from the archives of the United States Senate, by wastings and judicial murders, under the iron law which it appears that the votes were authenticated in of the sword, and the heroism of her true, though every legal form, by the signatures of the electors, by proscribed sovereign, all conspired to leave a festhe signature of the governor, and by the executive seal tering wound on the heart of Scotland, and to of the state. This removes the very foundation on render her restless and insubordinate under the which this great fabric of slander was erected. The reviewer's estimate of Mr. Jefferson's abilities is

rule of a foreign king. The battle of Cullouen as just, and candid, and liberal as his moral strictures,

The maxim referred to by the writer is, “De non apparen. On p. 34, article Jefferson, he pronounces it ludicrous tibus et non existentibus, eadem est ratio.”—Things not appear. to compare him with Hamilton or Jay. But what was ing, are considered as not existing.–(Ed. Mess.

quenched the last gasp of her independence, and endearments of domestic life, and gave to his the stern revenge inflicted on the vanquished by country in that trying hour the energy and rethe merciless Cumberland, while it filled the sources of a practised and accomplished soldier. nation with woe and wretchedness, expelled from In 1775 he was in command of three regiments of her bosom those sons whom power could not pur- minute men, and early in 1776 we find him zealchase, and whom cruelty could not conquer. In ously engaged as a colonel of the army of Virthat memorable engagement, the subject of our ginia, in drilling and organizing the raw and illmemoir bore an honorable part in the service of formed masses of men, who under the varied his oppressed country. Having graduated at an names of sons of Liberty, minute men, volunearly age in the science of medicine, he acted on teers and levies, presented the bulk without the this occasion as an assistant surgeon, and with a order—the mob without the discipline of an army. multitude of the vanquished, he shortly after sought To produce obedience and subordination among a refuge of virtue and a home of freedom in the men who considered military discipline as a rewilderness of America.

straint on personal liberty, and who had entered Landing in Pennsylvania, he remained there a into the war unpaid and unrestricted by command, short time. From thence he removed to Fre-was a severe and invidious task. The couragedericksburg in Virginia, where he married and the fortitude-the self-possession of Col. Mercer became highly distinguished for bis skill and suc- quailed not to these adverse circumstances, and by cess as a practitioner of medicine. An unsub- the judicious exercise of mingled severity and dued enemy-merciless, treacherous and revenge- kindness, he soon succeeded in reducing a mutiful, hovered around the frontiers of Maryland, nous soldiery to complete submission. Tradition Pennsylvania and Virginia, repressing settle- has preserved the following anecdote, illustrating ments-murdering defenceless women and chil- in a striking manner, his characteristic promptidren, and frequently making inroads into the cul- tude and bravery. tivated and open country of the colonies. Joining Among the troops which arrived at Williamsthe army under Washington, which was collected burg, then the metropolis of Virginia, was a comfor the purpose of subduing the Indians, General pany of riflemen from beyond the mountains, Mercer, then holding the rank of captain, became commanded by Captain Gibson. A reckless inan actor in those wild, perilous, and spirit-stirring subordination, and a violent opposition to military scenes which characterized the Indian war of restraint, bad gained for this corps the sarcastic 1755. In one of the engagements with this wily name of “ Gibson’s Lambs.” They had not been foe he was wounded in the right wrist by a mus- long in camp before a mutiny arose among them, ket ball; and in the irregular warfare then prac- producing much excitement in the army, and tised, his company scattered and became separated alarming the inhabitants of the city. Freed from from him. Faint from loss of blood, and ex-all command, they roamed through the camp, hausted by fatigue, he was closely pursued by the threatening with instant death, any officer who savage foe, their thrilling war-whoop ringing should presume to exercise authority over them. through the forest, and stimulating to redoubled in the height of the rebellion, an officer was desenergy the footsteps of their devoted victim. patched with the alarming tidings to the quarters Fortunately the hollow trunk of a large tree pre- of Col. Mercer. The citizens of the town vainly sented itself. In a moment he concealed himself implored him not to risk his life and person amid in it, and though bis pursuers reached the spot and this infuriated mob. Reckless of personal safety, seated themselves around him, he yet miraculously he instantly repaired to the barracks of the muescaped! Leaving his place of refuge, he soughttinous band, and directing a general parade of the the abodes of civilization, through a trackless wild troops, he ordered Gibson's company to be drawn of more than one hundred miles extent, and up as offenders and violaters of law, and to be disafter supporting life on roots and the body of a rat- armed in his presence. The ringleaders were tlesnake, which he encountered and killed, he placed under a strong guard, and in the presence finally reached Fort Cumberland in safety. For of the whole army, he addressed the offenders in his gallantry and military skill in this war, proved an eloquent and feeling manner-impressing on in a distinguished degree, by the destruction of them their duties as citizen-soldiers, and the certhe Indian settlement at Kittaning, Pennsylvania, tainty of death if they continued to disobey their the Corporation of Philadelphia presented to him officers, and remained in that mutinous spiritan honorable and appropriate medal.

equally disgraceful to them, and hazardous to the The commencement of the American Revolu- sacred interests they had marched to defend. Distion found him in the midst of an extensive medi-order was instanly checked, and after a short concal practice, surrounded by affectionate friends, finement, those under imprisonment were released, and enjoying in the bosom of a happy family all and the whole company were ever after as exemthe comforts of social life. Stimulated to action plary in their deportment and conduct as any by a lofty spirit of patriotism, he broke from the troops in the army.

A similar incident in the life of Germanicus, |recrossed the river, having lost but nine of his must recall to the memory of the classical reader men. the imperishable page of the Annals, and he will This bold and masterly stroke awoke Cornwalfind the glowing panegyric of Tacitus applying lis from his dream of conquest, and leaving New with redoubled force to the character of Col. York, he returned with an additional force, and Mercer. In the one case the legions of Panno- concentrated bis troops at Princeton. A portion niæ, on the death of Augustus, revolted for the of Pennsylvanian militia now joined the standard sake of plunder, and the army of Germany of Washington, and having persuaded the New which joined them, were inspired by the double England troops to serve six months longer, he motives of revolution and pillage. The virtue of again crossed the Delaware, and took post at Germanicus refused a crown stained with treason, Trenton. and he was forced to suppress the rebellion by On the morning of the second of January, means degrading to the soldier, and disgraceful to 1777, the enemy advanced to attack the American the patriot. He addressed the hearts of an army army. On their approach, Gen. Washington prucomposed of the refuse of Rome, in the language dently retired across a creek which runs through of sympathy and compliment, and the honor of the town, and then drew up his troops. The fords the soldier did not blush at the cowardice of a being guarded, the enemy could not pass, and haltlargess. Col. Mercer appealed to the sense and ing, a brisk cannonade was kept up with great patriotism of his rebellious soldiers, to the holy spirit by both sides until night. In this critical cause in which they were engaged; and while he situation, Gen. Washington conceived the bold awakened their remorse by his passionate elo- design of abandoning the Delaware, and marchquence, he asserted and maintained the supremacy ing silently in the night along the left flank of the of the laws.

enemy into their rear at Princeton. The plan was Colonel Mercer now joined the continental instantly approved by a council of war, and as army, Congress having conferred on him the rank soon as it was dark the baggage was removed to of Brigadier General; and throughout the whole Burlington. About one o'clock, on the morning of the stormy and disastrous campaign of 1776, he of the third of January, the gallant band—its van was a bold, fearless and efficient officer. The led by General Mercer, decamped, and silently fatal conflict at Long Island—the capitulation at threaded its circuitous march along the left flank Fort Washington, and the evacuation of Fort of its exulting foe. Reaching Princeton about Lee, were the painful preludes to the disastrous sunrise, General Mercer encountered three British retreat of the American army. From Bruns- regiments, who had encamped there on the prewick, through Princeton, to Trenton, our ragged vious night, and who were leaving the town to and suffering army was driven by a powerful and join the rear of their troops at Maidenheal. A exulting foe, until it was forced to cross the Dela- fierce and desperate conflict immediately ensued. ware in search of an uncertain refuge in Penn- The American militia, constituting the front, sylvania. Dispirited by defeat, and disheartened hesitated, became confused and soon gave way, by abject want, desertion daily thinned the feeble while the few regulars in the rear could not check ranks of the patriot army, and in that darkest the dastardly retreat. Ere the fortune of the day hour of our history the proclamation of General was changed, and ere victory perched on the paHowe, offering a free pardon, scattered far and triot standard, the heroic Mercer fell. Rushing wide the leprosy of treason. In vain did the forward to rally his broken troops, and stimulating commander-in-chief implore the assistance of the them by his voice and example, his horse was New Jersey and Pennsylvanian militia. Terrified shot from under him, and he fell dangerously or desponding, they refused all aid, and cautiously wounded among the columns of the advancing withdrew from an army now rapidly approaching enemy. Being thus dismounted, he was instantly the verge of destruction. Flushed with victory, surrounded by a party of British soldiers, with the enemy rioted on the plunder of the country, whom, when they refused him quarter, he fought and calmly awaited the extinction of its humbled desperately with his drawn sword until he was comfoe. The genius of Washington arose above these pletely overpowered. Excited to brutality by the accumulated misfortunes. He could no longer gallantry of his resistance, they stabbed him with repress the fatal disease of desertion and treason, their bayonets in seven different parts of his body, which was fast reducing his army to a skeleton. inflicted many blows on his head with the butt. The torrent of illfortune threatening to overwhelm ends of their muskets, and did not cease their his country, must be rolled back on the enemy, butchery until they believed him to be a crushed and he resolved to hazard one desperate effort for and mangled corpse. Nine days after the battle he victory. On the night of the 25th December, died in the arms of Major Geo. Lewis of the army, 1776, he crossed the Delaware at Trenton-sur- the nephew of General Washington, whom the prised a body of Hessians stationed there-took uncle had commissioned to watch over the last nearly nine hundred prisoners, and immediately moments of his expiring friend. His latter hours

« السابقةمتابعة »