Графични страници
PDF файл

against her. The navy of one nation pays no respect to the navy of another nation.

The expence of the English navy for 1806, according to the report of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in March of that year, was upwards of 68,000,000 dollars. The portion of the expense which the State of New York would have to pay as her quota towards raising what Mr. Hale calls a "respectable navy," would be 8,000,000 dollars over and above the impost revenue of 1,324,426, and therefore Mr. Hale should have finished with a resolve to the following purport:—

"Resolved, as the sense of this Legislature, that the farmers and landholders of the city and State of New York ought most cheerfully to pay, and this Legislature has no doubt but they will pay, the sum of 8,000,000 dollars annually, over and above the impost revenue, as the quota of this State, towards raising a * respectable navy' to fight either the French navy, the Spanish navy, the English navy, or any other navy."

As trees cannot be voted into ships by a resolve of the Legislature; it is first necessary to settle about the expence of a navy, and the manner in which that expense is to be defrayed, before they resolve about building a navy. Count the cost is a good maxim. Mr. Hale has begun his work at the wrong end.


April 3,1S07,


It appears by a paragraph in the Public Advertiser, that Cullen, alias Carpenter, or whatever hip name is, if he has any name, has commenced a prosecution against the printer or publisher of the Public Advertiser, but the prosecution does not say what it is for. Some advantages will arise from this and some amusement also. He will now have to identify himself and prove who he is, and upon what recommendation he came to America, and get some persons of respectahility if he can to attest for him. We have not established liberty as an asylum for impostors. Mr. Duane of Philadelphia knew him in India and in England, and he can prove that he did not then go by the name he now goes by, and the man that changes his name is an impostor. The law can know nothing of such persons but for the purpose of punishing them.

Thomas Paine will also know where to find him when the prosecution comes on, for he concealed himself from all the enquiries Mr. Paine made to find him or his place of residence. The case is, that Cullen's paper had falsified a publication written by Mr. Paine and published in the Citizen, on the danger to which a neutral nation exposed itself by harbouring an Emissary, or a suspected emissary, of one belligerent nation against another belligerent nation. This publication was falsified in Cullen's paper insidiously entitled "The People's Friend." Mr. Paine copied off the falsifications and desired a friend of his, a merchant in John Street, to call on Cullen, and read the falsifications to him, and demand who was the writer of them. The gentleman called at the printing office, but Cullen, alias Carpenter, was not there. The gentleman left word that he would call the next day and that he had something to communicate to Mr. Carpenter. He called accordingly but Carpenter was not there. He then asked the persons in the office where Mr. Carpenter lodged; they said they did not know, but they believed it was a good way off. The gentleman then left word for the third time, that he would call the next day, which he did, but Carpenter was not to be found, nor could any account be given of him. Mr. Paine will now know where to find him.

This man with two or three names has laid his damages at three thousand dollars. One way to get rich is first to be a rascal and then prosecute for exposing the rascality. But why did he not lay the damages at an hundred thousand dollars. There is a precedent for this.

April 8, 1807.


Letter the First

The proud integrity of conscious rectitude fears no reproach, and disdains the mercenary idea of damages. It is not the sound, but the ulcerated flesh that flinches from the touch. A man must feel his character exceedingly vulnerable, who can suppose that any thing said about him, or against him, can endamage him a hundred thousand dollars: yet this is the sum Morgan Lewis has laid his damages at, in his prosecution of M r. Farmer, as chairman of a meeting of republican citizens. This is a case, abstracted from any idea of damages, that ought to be brought before the representatives of the people assembled in Legislature. It is an attempted violation of the rights of citizenship, by the man whose official duty it was to proteet them.

Mr. Farmer was in the exercise of a legal and constitutional right. He was chairman of a meeting of citizens, peaceably assembled to consider on a matter that concerned themselves, the nomination of a proper person to be voted for as governor at the ensuing election. Had the meeting thought Morgan Lewis a proper person, they would have said so, and would have had a right to say so. But the meeting thought otherwise, and they had a right to say otherwise. But what has Morgan Lewis, as governor, to do with either of these cases. He is not governor jure divino, by divine right, nor is he covered with the magical mantle which covers a king of England, that HE can do no wrong; nor is the governorship of the State his property, or the property of his family connexions.

If Morgan Lewis could be so unwise and vain as to suppose he could prosecute for what he calls damages, he should prosecute every man who composed that meeting, except the chairman; for in the office of chairman, Mr. Farmer was a silent man on any matter discussed or decided there. He could not even give a vote on any subject, unless it was a tye vote, which was not the case. The utmost use Mr. Lewis could have made of Mr. Farmer would have been to have subpoenaed him to prove that such resolves were voted by the meeting; for Mr. Farmer's signature to those resolves, as chairman of the meeting, was no other than an attestation that such resolves were then passed.

Morgan Lewis, in this prosecution, has committed the same kind of error that a man would commit who should prosecute a witness for proving a fact done by a third person, instead of prosecuting that third person on whom the fact was proved. Morgan Lewis is, in my estimation of character, a poor lawyer, and a worse politician. He cannot maintain this prosecution; but I think Mr. Farmer might maintain a prosecution against him. False prosecution ought to be punished; and this is a false prosecution, because it is a wilful prosecution of the wrong person. If Morgan Lewis has sustained any damage, or any injury, which I do not believe he has, it is by the members composing the meeting, and not by the chairman. The resolves of a meeting are not the act of the chairman.

But in what manner will Morgan Lewis prove damages? damages must be proved by facts; they cannot be proved by opinion—opinion proves nothing. Damages given by opinion, are not damages in fact, and a jury is tied down to fact, and cannot take cognizance of opinion. Morgan Lewis must prove that between the time those resolves were passed, and the time he commenced his prosecution, he sustained damages to the amount of one hundred thousand dollars, and he must produce facts in proof of it. He must also prove that those damages were in consequence of those resolves, and could he prove all this, it would not reach Mr. Farmer, because, as before said, the resolves of a meeting are not the act of the chairman.

This is not a case merely before a jury of twelve men. The whole public is a jury in a case like this, for it concerns their public rights as citizens, and it is for the purpose of freeing it from the quibbling chicanery of law, and to place it in a clear, intelligible point of view before the people that I have taken it up.

But as people do not read long pieces on the approach of an election, and as it is probable I may give a second piece on the subject of damages, I will stop where I am for the present.


April 14, 1807,

Letter the Second.

In my former letter, I shewed that Morgan Lewis could not maintain a prosecution against Mr. Farmer, because the resolves of a public meeting are not the act of the chairman. His signature affixed thereto is not even evidence of his approbation, though I have no doubt myself but he approved them. It is put there for the purpose of certifying that such resolves were passed. In this letter I shall proceed further into the subject.

This prosecution is, upon the face of it, an attempt to intimidate the people in their character as citizens, from exercising their right of opinion on public men and public measures. Had it been a prosecution by one individual against another individual, in which the people had no interest or concern, I should not have taken the subject up. But it is a case that involves a question of public rights, and which shews that Morgan Lewis is not a proper person to be entrusted with the guardianship of those rights. In the second place, it is a bad example, because it is giving as governor of the State, the pernicious example of instituting frivolous prosecutions for the purpose of making money by them. A man of conscious integrity would feel himself above it, and a man of spirit would disdain it.

One of the objections stated against Morgan Lewis in those resolves, is, that he had formed a coalition with the Federalists. If Morgan Lewis conceived and felt this to be a disgrace to him, he must necessarily as a cause for that conception, have considered the Federalists an infamous set of men, and it is now incumbent on him to prove them such, as one of the grounds on which he is to prove damages. It is tantamount to his having said, in his own manner of speaking, they accuse me of being associated with scoundrels. Morgan Lewis is a weak man. He has not talents for the station he holds. He entraps himself in his own contrivances.

But if the objection contained in the resolves was illfounded, why did not Morgan Lewis come forward in the spirit of a man and the language of a gentleman, and contradict it. He would have gained credit by this, if he was innocent enough to have done it. The objection against him was publicly stated, and if not true ought to have been publicly refuted; for as Morgan Lewis is a public man, and

« ПредишнаНапред »