Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

law and the prophets: this limitless enfranchisement of the passions, made the thoughtless frantic, and the thinking weep : as the causes which produced this issue were lost in time, so the consequences of its influence were beyond the reach of calculation : when the first sensations of monarchical consternation had subsided, an expanded and decided system of counteraction was put in force, and a war commenced, with a peculiar feature of horror ; not for the recovery of a province, or to assert the dignity of an insulted empire, but for the overthrow of prejudice and the extermination of principle.

THE progress of these commotions, had an obvious tendency to agitate the people of the united States, many of whom were transported with zeal, at the supposed liberation of so many millions of their fellow creatures : liberty feasts were held in the large towns,and such inflammatory measures pursued as were inconsistent with the pacific views of the government : many insiduous arts were used to involve the country in a war with Great Britain ; and the French faca tion, directing the current of the lunacy,

[ocr errors]

were incessant in their intrigues, when General WASHINGTON published his declaration of neutrality and saved the nation.''

This act of salvation was the result of mature thought ;, the crisis, in which he resolved on the proclamation, was pregnant with infinite calamity; he risked the durability of his hard and well earned reputation, by thus firmly opposing the indiscreet spirit of the time, but he saw the direct relation of the folly, and its ultimate mischief : both houses of Congress ratified the deed, and he pursued his exalted functions with stability, circumspection, delicacy, and honour. His conduct, during this perilous conjuncture, was, perhaps, the greatest proof of his sagacity and magnanimity, that occurred in the history of his brilliant life : the love he bore his country subdued all minor considerations ; he had the greatness to be just and kind towards those, who seemed eager to be destroyed in the gratification of an indigested desire : by this determined step he paralized the arm of sedition, but it had the unavoidable effect of partially jarring the chords of public harmony : yet the bond of amity between the president and the people was

unsullied : the inquietude was diminished, in proportion as the measure was understood, and although dissension ever did, and ever will, happen in the best regulated gov. ernments, the prevailing part of a nation constantly veer towards the points of reciprocal justice.

As the discontents, arising from this great effort of policy, have not wholly subsided, it may not be improp er to suppose the motives which actuated the supreme magistrate : he saw that the conservation of the civil order was endangered by this illegitimate novelty, which undermined the base of mutual protection and personal comfort; he knew that the national character of his countrymen was forming, and he was unwilling that any of their habitudes should be derived from Gallic deformity: he gathered but little felicity from the Decades and misbegotten mummeries of the French Directory, being assured that they were inroads incompatible with the dignity and permanent good of human nature: their abolition of the sabbath, with its annexed piety and consolation, and corrective ordinances, was not, with him, an event of consummate glory: he believed and felt that an observance of its balmy duties allured us to resignation in the sweetest way, and that our delights were even unauthorized without gratitude-to those dark spirits, whose faith is bounded by their senses, we shall commit the illustration of the advantages of an eternal oblivion.

THE embarrassments arising from this evil, were not all the inconveniences he had to contend with, at this era ; an Indian war broke forth, which, in its first effects, caused some consternation, but, by the adroitness, skill, and intrepidity of General Wayne, soon terminated in favour of his arms: a ratification of peace was then concluded between the United States and the savages, and the presicient, in his comprehensive administration, had the beneficence to make the comfort of a prostrate foe, a leading consideration.

In the month of September, 1796, the time had revolved when a new election was to occur, of an appropriate person to fill the presidential seat: and while the public hope was indulged, that General WASHINGTON would accept it, for a third time ; he signi

fied his unalterable resolution of receding from the toils of state, in an affectionate and wise ADDRESS to the nation; the letter and spirit of which, we fervently pray, may be understood and practised, from this period, to ages yet unborn. :

HE resigned the mantle of authority with confidence to his successor, after dedicating forty-five years of his resplendent life, to the advantage of his country : it cannot surprise, that his renunciation of power should create dejection in his fellow citizens, whose impulse to action was virtue, and whose pursuit was justice : he consented to assume power for the benefit of mankind, and not for his own gratification : power is no estimable quality by itself; it is the power of doing good alone, that is desirable to the wise.

HIS

His conduct, in his executive capacity, was dignified, yet condescending ;* and mer

*ON General W SHINGTON's birth day, which was a few days ago, the city of Philadelphia was unusually gay ; every person of consequence in it, Quakers alone cxcepted, made it a point to visit the General on this day. As early as eleven o'clock in the morning he was prepared to receive them, and the audience lasted till three in the afternoon. The society of the Cincinnati,

« AnteriorContinuar »