Εικόνες σελίδας
PDF
Ηλεκτρ. έκδοση

signs, spake like a lamb, but their budding horns appeared like a dragon. My design, therefore, in making these remarks is, to shew; that all are not lovers and fathers of their country, who speak great swelling words. The words of men are to be tried by their actions, and the sacrifices they are willing to make for the public good; and by these, we are to judge whether they are true patriots. And now, that party spirit runs so high, men are not to be judged wholly by their political names and speeches, but by what they are willing to do and suffer for their country's good.

That men of high pretensions to republican principles, should be as unfeeling and as lordly towards their soldiers, as a West Indian slave-holder is towards his slaves, may seem almost unaccountable ; but this was really the conduct of some, who held commissions in the revolutionary army. They seemed to forget that their soldiers were made of the same blood with themselves, and were entitled to common humanity. They not only demeaned themselves, by using the most opprobrious epithets and language, and in the highest degree profane, but beat them for the smallest offences, and not unfrequently for mere mistakes. They seemed to imagine, that this kind of distance must be kept up between officers and soldiers, in order to maintain their own authority and due subordination. That there may be a familiarity which undermines authority, cannot be doubted ; but such a lordly and unfeeling distance, never did, and never will produce a cheerful and ready submission. Passionate and imperious conduct always generates hatred and bad blood; and though soldiers may tren and bow for fear of the lash, yet they cannot obey from respect and confidence; which kind of obedience is absolutely necessary in an army. What sacrifices can those be supposed ready to make for men, who were not only destitute of common humanity, but took delight in treating soldiers with more indignity and cruelty, than masters usually do their dogs ? And when it is remembered that these very men must sometimes endeavor to inspire their soldiers to undertake the hazards and labors of war, hy an exhibition of republican principles, and a love of liberty ; it could not fail to excite an indignity and scorn, which, though concealed in the bosom, must operate powerfully against those actions which are conducive of warlike achieveinents. But this effect was not as apparent and extensive as might have been expected ; because the abuse

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

above described, was found chiefly among the subaltern ofticers, and extending only to a part of them ; while the most of those of higher rank, discovered a greater consistency between their avowed principles and actions. General Washington himself was one of the noblest examples of this line of conduct, that ever was exhibited on the grand theatre of America. He fully refuted the notion, that men must be tyrants in order to be obeyed ;, and established on an haken basis the truth, that if men will be cheerfully obeyed, they must command respect. From the highest to the lowest community, where authority and subordination are necessary for the preservation of due order ; a haughty severity is so far from having the least tendency to promote it, that it absolutely disorganizes and disunites; and makes those refractory who would otherwise obey, with the greatest cheerfulness. It is strange that tyrants, of every grade, have not been so convinced of this, as to abandon their tyranny, and substitute a mild and firm authority ; which never fails to produce respectful subordination. But such men appear to have an uncommon share of pride and vanity, and propor tionably little of reason and humanity; and being determined to sacrifice every thing to the former, they look upon it be neath their fancied dignity to obey the dictates of the latter.

I had the honor of being personally acquainted with General Washington, and such a man, in all respects, I have never seen before nor since. He possessed dignity without ostentation ; humility without meanness; cheerfulness free from vanity ; sobriety opposed to austerity. He had an affable familiarity, joined with the most firm and ready authority, and the most commanding talents. He was cool, courageous, intrepid ; unaccompanied with haste, blind temerity, and imprudence;--quick in discernment, ready in action, vigorous in execution; modest in victory, undismayed in adversity, and patient in suffering. A man of fidelity in friendship-tender, without effeminacy; humane and forgiving, without doing any violence to justice ; modest in his own praise, ready to bestow praise, or hear it bestowed on the deserving, without uneasiness or envy. In short, he was a Christian, a gentleman, an officer, a soldier, “an honest man ;" and therefore “ the noblest work of God."

There were other officers of rank, as well as subalterns and soldiers, who deserved well of their country, and whose patriotism will never be forgotten. Their deeds are embalm.

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

ed in the grateful remembrance of freemen, their names are enrolled on the imperishable annals of fame, and while the stars and the stripes adorn the ensigns of America, and the eagle perches on monuments of heroes, so long shall they be exalted, as the patrons of our liberty, and as models of patriotic virtue and boldness.

After having endured, for several years, the fatigues and privations of war, and being in several warm and bloody actions, being wounded, and once taken prisoner, I had the happiness, at length, of seeing an end to that sanguinary conflict. I then retired to my estate, in where I have lived ever since. I hoped when the ferments and the disorders of the revolution were ended, that universal harmony would reign through the nation. But in this I was deceived. Difference of political sentiment soon began to appear; disunion and bitterness were its fruits. Yet, when the states succeeded in forming and adopting the Federal Constitution, my hope revived that all feuds would cease, and the most happy harmony prevail. A second disappointment followed; the pain of which was doomed to increase, by the increase of party spirit. With many, names have already become the ONLY TEST of friend or foe to the government. A few designing individuals, together with some abuses of the press, have been the principle engines at work, for giving strength and name to division. It is to be hoped, that these parties will grow tired of the combat, apd if they do not actually enter on terms of peace, will at least lay down their arms. this should not be the case, the consequence is certainly to be dreaded.

You are a young man, just setting out in the world, and appear to possess an enterprising and inquiring mind; but it will be necessary to use great caution concerning your political conduct; otherwise you may be involved in difficulty, and lose your infuence in society. Avoid, therefore, going to the extreme of either party. Rather “prove all things and hold fast that which is good.” Do not hastily condemn the measures of government; and before you censure at all, have the fullest evidence that the conduct of our rulers desérve censure. Never accusé them of corruption, bribery, and a design upon our liberties, when there is nothing more than such mistakes as human nature is heir to. Be not so arrogant and vain as to dictate congress in your own chimney Corner, make laws and repeal them, and in your own party

[ocr errors]

self-conceit lay out all their business, and then find fault with that body for not doing what they knew nothing of, and what would not have been binding, or even wise, had they known it. Some men, of very limited understanding, pretend to know more of the affairs of the cabinet, of our foreign relations, what articles a treaty of amity or commerce should contain; what laws should be enacted; how, and to what amount duties and imposts should be paid; and so of every other thing within the jurisdiction of congress, than those who are members of that body; and are perpetually pouring out a flood of invectives, because their motions and bills are not attended to. The same class of men in time of war, sit in their chimney corners, and without any geographical or tactical knowledge, whatever, will tell you when a general should march his troops, and when and where he should encamp, when to decamp ; when to attack the enemy, and the manner of attack; whether in the centre or on one of the wings, or both at the same time; and whether this should be done in the open field or in the woods, uncovered or behind a breast-work; and even when and how he should retreat, or take the enemy prisoners. Were not this so notorious, it could hardly be believed.

But female politicians, form one of the most detestable groups in the universe. They scold politics around the teatahle, till one would suppose old Xantippe, and all her daughters were there. One is a statesman, another is a mi itary commander, a third denounces the President, a fourth curses Congress, a filth bawis out jacohin, a sixth screams the meeting houses and bibles will be burnt. An opposite party sets up the ciỹ of tory-demo is re-echoed. And if these political ladies were not passionately fond of tea, it might be expected that from words they would proceed to throw cups charged with the hot decoction ; and pull caps with female al ility; till some of them, like the sons of Sceva, should fiee out of the house wounded and naked.

Happily it ends without bloodshed, and they cool down €. nough to deal out a whole Paris freight of unmeaning, ceremonious invitations ; made up with, I should be rery happy indeed, to wait on you at my house-I'll certainly do myself the pleasure to call, &c. &c.

But I am growing quite too ironical for a man of my years. I have this excuse, however, for myself, that such vices can, not be soberly reasoned with, ridicule is the only successful

[merged small][ocr errors]

mode of treatment. We have some examples of this also, ia scripture. But ridicule should be sparingly usedl, well-timed and rightly directed, and it can hardly fail to have a good effect.

I thank you (said Charles) for this relation, and the remarks as well as the advice suhjoined. For some years I have been sensible that party spirit has been carried much too far, and have endeavored to be moderate in my own feelings and remarks. For a while I had no system of politics, but at length observing some men who claimed a high standing in state knowledge and state virtues, who sought for an exclusive establishment of state religion ; and finding that they availed themselves of some vague expressions in the bill of rights, for the purpose of oppressing those they called dissenters ;putting some of them in prison, attaching and selling their property to pay other ministers, and a train of such oppressions ; I came to this conclusion, that if these men would bind

my conscience and take away my religious liberty, they would destroy my civil liberty also, if in their power. From this time, I set such down as enemies of our constitution ;and unfit to be trusted with the affairs of the state. And though it is a maxim with me, that all men who are not called by my political name, are not of this stamp ; yet, when I prove any man to be so, I no longer think him worthy of my political confidence.

You are right said the Gen.—but it is time to end the conversation--we will take up the subject at some other time.

CHAPTER XVI.

AT tea, the conversation turned upon religion and religious professions. The landlord observed that he believed himseli far from being a bigot, and should be sorry to misrerresent the character of any Christian or denomination of Christians; yet, as all present were professors of religious experience, he could not think that any harm would be done in the cause of Christ, by entering upon a free conversation coacerning some things which had appeared among different religgious professions; provided they were led by the pure charity

« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »