Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

disposition to over-estimate the chances of good, conduces more to the happiness or misery of its possessor. Thus, on the one hand it may be said that if it gives him more enjoyment from the contemplation of the future, he must, on that very account, experience more disappointment. The life of such a person, is that of the infatuated gamester, who though always tempted to play by the hope of winning, is always subject to the vexation of loss and disappointment; that, although such a state of mind may be preferable to that of despondency, which adds the ima. ginary to the real ills of life, and which ever poisons present enjoyment with the fear of future evil; yet a calm and equable temper, one that has no anticipations of the future sufficiently vivid to give either much pleasure or pain, is better than either of the others; as it is at once exempt from the disappointments which await the sanguine, and the perpetual self-torment of the gloomy and desponding. It must be confessed that such a neutral temper is the safest. Sailing on an unruffled sea, if the voyage of these quietists is slow, and often tedious, it is secure from storms and shipwreck. Theirs is the small traffic in the emotions, which though it may not make them rich, will never expose them to bankruptcy. But, in spite of this reasoning, it seems probable that the cheerful and sanguine temper experiences a greater amount of felicity than either of the others. The sum of his enjoyment is admitted to be greater in good fortune; and as to the more frequent disappointments to which he is exposed, he has a sure antidote for them in some new hope, whose illusory power of decking the future with the hues of the rainbow, and of giving the mockeries of fancy the same appearance of reality, continues to the last. Persons of this character pass their lives in one continued dream of either hope or enjoyment. When they find that they have been cheated by one picture of their fancy, they may indeed not suffer themselves to be deluded by the same promises, but then some new object presents itself to their imaginations to exhibit the same fascinations; to be pursued with the same ardour; and, but too probably, to prove, in the end, the same fleeting shadow and illusion. Such persons can no more be deprived of this their happy credulity, than they can be prevented from believing in the reality of their dreams by having found all former dreams delusive. If now and then, (for a single calamity scarcely ever produces that effect,) an uninterrupted series of misfortunes be found sufficient to weaken or destroy this propensity, yet, on the other hand, it must be recollected that, in the common course of events, many of their agreeable anticipations are equalled, and even exceeded by the reality; and one instance of this character tends more to confirm their propensity, than several of an opposite description do to correct it.

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

Letter to Edmund Pendleton. Conciliatory course of the President to

wards France. Discord in his Cabinet. Letter to Kosciusko. Appointment of Ministers to France. Letter to Mr. Madison. Resolutions of Virginia and Kentucky on the Alien and Sedition Laws. Unjust Censure of the late Envoys to France. Question concerning the Common Law of England. Concerted operations of the Republican Party. Meeting of Congress. Death of Washington. Letter to Mr. Monroe. Proceeding of Congress. Letter to Gideon Granger. Aspersions on Mr. Jefferson. Letter to Dr. Rush. Moral influence of Cities considered. Presidential Election. Letter to Burr. The election of President devolves upon Congress. Proceedings in that Body. Public anxiety during the Election. Thomas Jefferson finally elected. His letter to Mr. Monroe.

1798.

On the 29th of January, Mr. Jefferson addressed a letter to Edmund Pendleton, the venerable president of the court of appeals, whose recent “patriarchal address to the people” he highly commends. He regards Gerry's correspondence as exculpating the French government from the turpitude imputed to it, and attributes the whole affair to swindlers. He urges Mr. Pendleton to communicate it to the public in a recapitula. tion "short, simple, and levelled to every capacity.” Remarking, “nobody in America can do it so well as yourself.” He forwards the documents that would enable him to make the recapitulation. He thinks that “if the understanding of the people could be rallied to the truth of this subject, by exposing the dupery practised on them, there were so many other things about to bear

on them, favourably for the resurrection of their republican spirit, that a reduction of the administration to constitutional principles could not fail to be the effect.” These were “the alien and sedition laws, the vexations of the stamp act, the disgusting particularities of the direct tax, the additional army without an enemy, and recruiting officers lounging at every courthouse, to decoy the labourer from his plough; a navy of fifty ships, five millions to be raised to build it, on the usurious interest of eight per cent; the perseverance in war on our part, when the French government shows such an anxious desire to keep at peace with us; taxes of ten millions now paid by four millions of people, and yet a necessity, in a year or two, of raising five millions more for annual expenses.”—He solemnly denies all agency in Logan's voyage to Europe. He merely gave him a certificate of citizenship, as he had given to hundreds of others of both parties.

It appeared to Mr. Jefferson and his party friends, that the ensuing summer was the moment for exertion, for the purpose of profiting by the unpopularity of the alien and sedition laws, and the new taxes, and thus counteracting the influence of the despatches from France. The public sentiment being on the turning point, or "on the creen," as he expresses it, and many circumstances favouring the republican cause, he remarks, to Mr. Madison, “this summer is the season for systematic energies and sacrifices. The engine is the press. Every man must lay his purse and his pen under contribution. As to the former, it is possible I may be obliged to assume something for you. As to the latter, let me pray and beseech you to set apart a certain portion of every day to write what may be proper for the pub. lic."

About a fortnight after the preceding letter, he renewed his application to the venerable Judge Pendleton, then verging towards eighty, to take up his pen. He says, “the violations of the Constitution, propensities to war, to expense, and to a particular foreign connexion, which we have lately seen, are becoming evident to the people, and are dispelling that mist which X Y Z had spread before their eyes." He gives a flattering account of the political changes which the alien and sedition laws were effecting in Pennsylvania, New York, and New Jersey; adverts to the danger in Pennsylvania of insurrection, and judiciously remarks that nothing could be so fatal to the republican interests. "Any thing like force would check the progress of the public opinion, and rally them round the government." ..... "If we can keep quiet, therefore, the tide now turning will take a speedy and proper direction.” This wholesome advice was recollected the following year by his friends, when strongly tempted to disregard it by the popular odium attending the execution of the sedition law.

He then enters into some details to prove that France was desirous of a reconciliation, and that the administration endeavoured to provoke her to hostilities. He admits that the French have behaved atrociously towards foreign nations, and to us particularly, and adds, that “their enemies set the first example of violating neutral rights, and continue it to this day. Yet not a word of these things is said officially to the legislature.”

Indeed it was evident, not merely from the liberation of American prisoners at Guadaloupe, but the whole course of the French government, that after the first expression of ill-bumour towards this country, when they discovered the resentment their treatment of our envoys had excited, and that they had added to the strength of the friends of England, and lessened that of their own, they were sincerely disposed to arrest the progress of the mischief, and to effect a reconciliation with the United States. But whether they would have felt the same disposition if their conduct had been less warmly or generally resented, may be very fairly questioned. Actuated by these pacific views, they made overtures which the president did not think it prudent or proper to decline, and which eventually had great influence on the feelings of both parties. The president's message to the Senate on this subject is thus mentioned by Mr. Jefferson in a letter to Mr. Madison, of the 19th of February:

“But the event of events was announced to the Senate yesterday. It is this:-it seems that sometime after Gerry's departure, overtures must have been made by Pichon, French

Vol. II.-8

« ПредишнаНапред »