Your favor of December 17th, has been duly received, and with it the pamphlet on the cause, seat and cure of diseases, fox which be pleased to accept my thanks. The commencement which you propose by the natural history of the diseases of the human body, is a very interesting one, and will certainly be the best foundation for whatever relates to their cure. While surgery is seated in the temple of the exact sciences, medicine has scarcely entered its threshold. Her theories have passed in such rapid succession as to prove the insufficiency of all, and their fatal errors are recorded in the necrology of man. For some forms of disease, well known and well defined, she has found substances which will restore order to the human system, and it is to be hoped that observation and experience will add to their number. But a great mass of diseases remain undistinguished and unknown, exposed to the random shot of the theory of the day. If on this chaos you can throw such a beam of light as your celebrated brother has done on the sources of animal heat, you will, like him, render great service to mankind.
The fate of England, I think with you, is nearly decided, and the present form of her existence is drawing to a close. The ground, the houses, the men will remain; but in what new form they will revive and stand among nations, is beyond the reach of human foresight. We hope it may be one of which the predatory principle may not be the essential characteristic. If her transformation shall replace her under the laws of moral order, it is for the general interest that she should still be a sensible and independent weight in the scale of nations, and be able to contribute, when a favorable moment presents itself, to reduce under the same order, her great rival in flagitiousness. We especially ought to pray that the powers of Europe may be so poised and counterpoised among themselves, that their own safety may require the presence of all their force at home, leaving the other quarters of the globe in undisturbed tranquillity. When our strength will permit us to give the law of our hemisphere, it should be that the meridian of the mid-Atlantic should be the line of demarkation between war and peace, on this side of which no act of hostility should be committed, and the lion and the lamb lie down in peace together.
I am particularly thankful for the kind expressions of your letter towards myself, and tender you in return my best wishes and the assurances of my great respect and esteem.
I have duly received your favor of December 22d, informing me that the society of artists of the United States had made me an honorary member of their society. I am very justly sensible of the honor they have done me, and I pray you to return them my thanks for this mark of their distinction. I fear that I can be but a very useless associate. Time, which withers the fancy, as the other faculties of the mind and body, presses on me with a heavy hand, and distance intercepts all personal intercourse. I can offer, therefore, but my zealous good wishes for the success of the institution, and that, embellishing with taste a country already overflowing with the useful productions, it may be able to give an innocent and pleasing direction to accumulations of wealth, which would otherwise be employed in the nourishment of coarse and vicious habits. With these I tender to the society and to yourself the assurances of my high respect and consideration.
Dear Sir,I thank you for your letter of the 6th. It is a proof of your friendship, and of the sincere interest you take in whatever concerns me. Of this I have never had a moments doubt, and have ever valued it as a precious treasure. The question indeed whether I knew or approved of General Wilkinsons endeavors to prevent the restoration of the right of deposit at New Orleans, could never require a second of time to answer. But it requires some time for the mind to recover from the astonishment excited by the boldness of the suggestion. Indeed, it is with difficulty I can believe he has really made such an appeal ; and the rather as the expression in your letter is that you have "casually heard it," without stating the degree of reliance which you have in the source of information. I think his understanding is above an expedient so momentary and so finally overwhelming. Were Dearborn and myself dead, it might find credit with some. But the world at large, even then, would weigh for themselves the dilemma, whether it was more probable that, in the situation I then was, clothed with the confidence and power of my country, I should descend to so unmeaning an act of treason, or that he, in the wreck now threatening him, should wildly lay hold of any plank. They would weigh his motives and views against those of Dearborn and myself, the tenor of his life against that of ours, his Spanish mysteries against my open cherishment of the western interests ; and, living as we are, and ready to purge ourselves by any ordeal, they must now weigh, in addition, our testimony against his. All this makes me believe he will never seek this refuge. I have ever and carefully restrained myself from the expression of any opinion respecting General Wilkinson, except in the case of Burrs conspiracy, wherein, after he had got over his first agitations, we believed his decision firm, and his conduct zealous for the defeat of the conspiracy, and although injudicious, yet meriting, from sound intentions, the support of the nation. As to the rest of his life, I have left it to his friends and his enemies, to whom it furnishes matter enough for disputation. I classed myself with neither, and least of all in this time of his distresses, should I be disposed to add to their pressure. I hope, therefore, he has not been so imprudent as to write our names in the panel of his witnesses.
Accept the assurances of my constant affections.
I thank you beforehand (for they are not yet arrived) for the specimens of homespun you have been so kind as to forward me by post. I doubt not their excellence, knowing how far you are advanced in these things in your quarter. Here we do little in the fine way, but in coarse and middling goods a great deal. Every family in the country is a manufactory within itself, and is very generally able to make within itself all the stouter and middling stuffs for its own clothing and household use. We consider a sheep for every person in the family as sufficient to clothe it, in addition to the cotton, hemp and flax which we raise ourselves. For fine stuff we shall depend on your northern manufactories. Of these, that is to say, of company establishments, we have none. We use little machinery. The spinning jenny, and loom with the flying shuttle, can be managed in a family; but nothing more complicated. The economy and thriftiness resulting from our household manufactures are such that they will never again be laid aside; and nothing more salutary for us has ever happened than the British obstructions to our demands for their manufactures. Restore free intercourse when they will, their commerce with us will have totally changed its form, and the articles we shall in future want from them will not exceed their own consumption of our produce.
A letter from you calls up recollections very dear to my mind. It carries me back to the times when, beset with difficulties and dangers, we were fellow laborers in the same cause, struggling for what is most valuable to man, his right of self-government. Laboring always at the same oar, with some wave ever ahead, threatening to overwhelm us, and yet passing harmless under our bark, we knew not how we rode through the storm with heart and hand, and made a happy port. Still we did not expect to be without rubs and difficulties ; and we have had them. First, the detention of the western posts, then the coalition of Pilnitz, outlawing our commerce with France, and the British enforcement of the outlawry. In your day, French depredations ; in mine, English, and the Berlin and Milan decrees; now, the English orders of council, and the piracies they authorize. When these shall be over, it will be the impressment of our seamen or something else ; and so we have gone on, and so we shall go on, puzzled and prospering beyond example in the history of man. And I do believe we shall continue to growl; to multiply and prosper until we exhibit an association, powerful, wise and happy, beyond what has yet been seen by men. As for France and England, with all their preeminence in science, the one is a den of robbers, and the other of pirates. And if science produces no better fruits than tyranny, murder rapine and destitution of national morality, I would rather wish our country to be ignorant, honest and estimable, as our neighboring savages are. But whither is senile garrulity leading me ? Into politics, of which I have taken final leave. I think little of them and say less. I have given up newspapers in exchange for Tacitus and Thucydides, for Newton and Euclid, and I find myself much the happier. Sometimes, indeed, I look back to former occurrences, in remembrance of our old friends and fellow laborers, who have fallen before us. Of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, I see now living not more than half a dozen on your side of the Potomac, and on this side, myself alone. You and I have been wonderfully spared, and myself with remarkable health, and a considerable activity of body and mind. I am on horseback three or four hours of every day; visit three or four times a year a possession I have ninety miles distant, performing the winter journey on horseback. I walk little, however, a single mile being too much for me, and I live in the midst of my grandchildren, one of whom has lately promoted me to be a great-grandfather. I have heard with pleasure that you also retain good health, and a greater power of exercise in walking than I do. But I would rather have heard this from yourself, and that, writing a letter like mine, full of egotisms, and of details of your health, your habits, occupations and enjoyments, I should have the pleasure of knowing that in the race of life, you do not keep, in its physical decline, the same distance ahead of me which you have done in political honors and achievements. No circumstances have lessened the interest I feel in these particulars respecting yourself ; none have suspended for one moment my sincere esteem for you, and I now salute you with unchanged affection and respect.
Dear Sir,Your favor of the 14th has been duly received, and I sincerely congratulate you, or rather my country, on the just testimony of confidence which it has lately manifested to you. In your hands I know that its affairs will be ably and honestly administered.
In answer to your inquiry whether, in the early times of our government, where the council was divided, the practice was for the Governor to give the deciding vote ? I must observe that, correctly speaking, the Governor not being a counsellor, his vote could make no part of an advice of council. That would be to place an advice on their journals which they did not give, and could not give because of their equal division. But he did what was equivalent in effect. While I was in the administration, no doubt was ever suggested that where the council, divided in opinion, could give no advice, the Governor was free and bound to act on his own opinion and his own responsibility. Had this been a change of the practice of my predecessor, Mr. Henry, the first Governor, it would have produced some discussion, which it never did. Hence, I conclude it was the opinion and practice from the first institution of the government. During Arnolds and Cornwallis invasion, the council dispersed to their several homes, to take care of their families. Before their separation, I obtained from them a capitulary of standing advices for my government in such cases as ordinarily occur : such as the appointment of militia officers, justices, inspectors, etc., on the recommendations of the courts ; but in the numerous and extraordinary occurrences of an invasion, which could not be foreseen, I had to act on my own judgment and my own responsibility. The vote of general approbation, at the session of the succeeding winter, manifested the opinion of the legislature, that my proceedings had been correct. General Nelson, my successor, staid mostly, I think, with the army; and I do not believe his council followed the camp, although my memory does not enable me to affirm the fact. Some petitions against him for impressment of property without authority of law; brought his proceedings before the next legislature; the questions necessarily involved were whether necessity, without express law, could justify the impressment, and if it could, whether he could order it without the advice of council. The approbation of the legislature amounted to a decision of both questions. I remember this case the more especially, because I was then a member of the legislature, and was one of those who supported the Governors proceedings, and I think there was no division of the House on the question. I believe the doubt was first suggested in Governor Harrisons time, by some member of the council, on an equal division. Harrison, in his dry way, observed that instead of one Governor and eight counsellors, there would then be eight Governors and one counsellor, and continued, as I understood, the practice of his predecessors. Indeed, it is difficult to suppose it could be the intention of those who framed the Constitution, that when the council should be divided the government should stand still ; and the more difficult as to a Constitution formed during a war, and for the purpose of carrying on that war, that so high an officer as their Governor should be created and salaried, merely to act as the clerk and authenticator of the votes of the council. No doubt it was intended that the advice of the council should control the Governor. But the action of the controlling power being withdrawn, his would be left free to proceed on its own responsibility. Where from division, absence, sickness or other obstacle, no advice could be given, they could not mean that their Governor, the person of their peculiar choice and confidence, should stand by, an inactive spectator, and let their government tumble to pieces for want of a will to direct it. In executive cases, where promptitude and decision are all-important, an adherence to the letter of a law against its probable intentions, (for every law must intend that itself shall be executed,) would be fraught with incalculable danger. Judges may await further legislative explanations, but a delay of executive action might produce irretrievable ruin. The State is invaded, militia to be called out, an army marched, arms and provisions to be issued from the public magazines, the legislature to be convened, and the council is divided. Can it be believed to have been the intention of the framers of the Constitution, that the Constitution itself and their constituents with it should be destroyed for want of a will to direct the resources they had provided for its preservation ? Before such possible consequences all verbal scruples must vanish ; construction must be made secundum arbitrium boni viri, and the Constitution be rendered a practicable thing. That exposition of it must be vicious, which would leave the nation under the most dangerous emergencies without a directing will. The cautious maxims of the bench, to seek the will of the legislator and his words only, are proper and safer for judicial government. They act ever on an individual case only, the evil of which is partial, and gives time for correction. But an instant of delay in executive proceedings may be fatal to the whole nation. They must not, therefore, be laced up in the rules of the judiciary department. They must seek the intention of the legislator in all the circumstances which may indicate it in the history of the day, in the public discussions, in the general opinion and understanding, in reason and in practice. The three great departments having distinct functions to perform, must have distinct rules adapted to them. Each must act under its own rules, those of no one having any obligation on either of the others. When the opinion first began that a Governor could not act when his council could not or would not advise, I am uninformed. Probably not till after the war; for, had it prevailed then, no militia could have been opposed to Cornwallis, nor necessaries furnished to the opposing army of La Fayette. These, Sir, are my recollections and thoughts on the subject of your inquiry, to which I will only add the assurances of my great esteem and respect.
I duly received your favor of the 1st instant, together with the volume accompanying it, for which I pray you to accept my thanks, and to be so kind as to convey them to Mrs. Debutts also, to whose obliging care I am indebted for its transmission. But especially my thanks are due to the author himself for the honorable mention he has made of me. With the exception of two or three characters of greater eminence in the revolution, we formed a group of fellow laborers in the common cause, animated by a common zeal, and claiming no distinction of one over another.
The spirit of freedom, breathed through the whole of Mr. Northmores composition, is really worthy of the purest times of Greece and Rome. It would have been received in England, in the days of Hampden and Sidney, with more favor than at this time. It marks a high and independent mind in the author, one capable of rising above the partialities of country, to have seen in the adversary cause that of justice and freedom, and to have estimated fairly the motives and actions of those engaged in its support. I hope and firmly believe that the whole world will, sooner or later, feel benefit from the issue of our assertion of the rights of man. Although the horrors of the French Revolution have damped for awhile the ardor of the patriots in every country, yet it is not extinguishedit will never die. The sense of right has been excited in every breast, and the spark will be rekindled by the very oppressions of that detestable tyranny employed to quench it. The errors of the honest patriots of France, and the crimes of her Dantons and Robespierres, will be forgotten in the more encouraging contemplation of our sober example, and steady March to our object. Hope will strengthen the presumption that what has been done once may be done again. As you have been the channel of my receiving this mark of attention from Mr. Northmore, I must pray you to be that of conveying to him my thanks, and an assurance of the high sense I have of the merit of his work, and of its tendency to cherish the noblest virtues of the human character.
On the political events of the day I have nothing to communicate. I have retired from them, and given up newspapers for more classical reading. I add, therefore, only the assurances of my great esteem and respect.
Observing that you edit the Edinburgh Review, reprinted in New York, and presuming that your occupations in that line are not confined to that single work, I take the liberty of addressing the present letter to you. If I am mistaken, the obviousness of the inference will be my apology. Mr. Edward Livingston brought an action against me for having removed his intrusion on the beach of the river Mississippi opposite to New Orleans. At the request of my counsel I made a statement of the facts of the case, and of the law applicable to them, so as to form a full argument of justification. The case has been dismissed from court for want of jurisdiction, and the public remain uninformed whether I had really abused the powers entrusted to me, as he alleged. I wish to convey to them this information by publishing the justification. The questions arising in the case are mostly under the civil law; the laws of Spain and of France, which are of course couched in French, in Spanish, in Latin, and some in Greek; and the books being in few hands in this country, I was obliged to make very long extracts from them. The correctness with which your edition of the Edinburgh Review is printed, and of the passages quoted in those languages, induces me to propose to you the publication of the case I speak of. It will fill about 65 or 70 pages of the type and size of paper of the Edinburgh Review. The MS. is in the handwriting of this letter, entirely fair and correct. It will take between four and five sheets of paper, of sixteen pages each. I should want 250 copies struck off for myself, intended principally for the members of Congress, and the printer would be at liberty to print as many more as he pleased for sale, but without any copyright, which I should not propose to have taken out. It is right that I should add, that the work is not at all for popular reading. It is merely a law argument, and a very dry one; having been intended merely for the eye of my counsel. It may be in some demand perhaps with lawyers, and persons engaged in the public affairs, but very little beyond that. Will you be so good as to inform me if you will undertake to edit this, and what would be the terms on which you can furnish me with 250 copies ? I should want it to be done with as little delay as possible, so that Congress might receive it before they separate; and I should add as a condition, that not a copy should be sold until I could receive my number, and have time to lay them on the desks of the members. This would require a month from the time they should leave New York by the stage. In hopes of an early answer I tender you the assurances of my respect.
Thomas Jefferson presents his compliments to Dr. Wheaton, and his thanks for the address he was so kind as to enclose him on the advancement in medicine. Having little confidence in the theories of that art, which change in their fashion with the ladies caps and gowns, he has much in the facts it has established by observation. The experience of physicians has proved that in certain forms of disease certain substances will restore order to the human system ; and he doubts not that continued observation will enlarge the catalogue, and give relief to our posterity in cases wherein we are without it. The extirpation of the small pox by vaccination, is an encouraging proof that the condition of man is susceptible of amelioration, although we are not able to fix its extent. He salutes Dr. Wheaton with esteem and respect.
I have duly received your favor of the 10th instant, proposing to me to join in a contribution for the support of the family of the late Mr. Cheetham of New York. Private charities, as well as contributions to public purposes in proportion to every ones circumstances, are certainly among the duties we owe to society, and I have never felt a wish to withdraw from my portion of them. The general relation in which I, some time since, stood to the citizens of all our States, drew on me such multitudes of these applications as exceeded all resource. Nor have they much abated since my retirement to the limited duties of a private citizen, and the more limited resources of a private fortune. They have obliged me to lay down as a law of conduct for myself, to restrain my contributions for public institutions to the circle of my own State, and for private charities to that which is under my own observation ; and these calls I find more than sufficient for everything I can spare. Nor was there anything in the case of the late Mr. Cheetham, which could claim with me to be taken out of a general rule. On these considerations I must decline the contribution you propose, not doubting that the efforts of the family, aided by those who stand in the relation to them of neighbors and friends, in so great a mart for industry, as they are placed in, will save them from all danger of want or suffering. With this apology for returning the paper sent me, unsubscribed, be pleased to accept the tender of my respect.
I am indebted to you for the communication of the prospectus of a work embracing the history of civilized man, political and moral, from the great change produced in his condition by the extension of the feudal system over Europe through all the successive effects of the revival of letters, the invention of printing, that of the compass, the enlargement of science, and the revolutionary spirit, religious and civil, generated by that. It presents a vast anatomy of fact and reflection, which if duly filled up would offer to the human mind a wonderful mass for contemplation.
Your letter does not ascertain whether this work is already executed, or only meditated ; but it excites a great desire to see it completed, and a confidence that the author of the analysis is best able to develop the profound views there only sketched. It would be a library in itself, and to our country particularly desirable and valuable, if executed in the genuine republican principles of our Constitution. The only orthodox object of the institution of government is to secure the greatest degree of happiness possible to the general mass of those associated under it. The events which this work proposes to embrace will establish the fact that unless the mass retains sufficient control over those intrusted with the powers of their government, these will be perverted to their own oppression, and to the perpetuation of wealth and power in the individuals and their families selected for the trust. Whether our Constitution has hit on the exact degree of control necessary, is yet under experiment ; and it is a most encouraging reflection that distance and other difficulties securing us against the brigand governments of Europe, in the safe enjoyment of our farms and firesides, the experiment stands a better chance of being satisfactorily made here than on any occasion yet presented by history. To promote, therefore, unanimity and perseverance in this great enterprise, to disdain despair, encourage trial, and nourish hope, and the worthiest objects of every political and philanthropic work; and that this would be the necessary result of that which you have delineated, the facts it will review, and the just reflections arising out of them, will sufficiently answer. I hope, therefore, that it is not in petto merely, but already completed; and that my fellow citizens, warned in it of the rocks and shoals on which other political associations have been wrecked, will be able to direct theirs with a better knowledge of the dangers in its way.
The enlargement of your observations on the subjects of natural history, alluded to in your letter, cannot fail to add to our lights respecting them, and will therefore ever be a welcome present to every friend of science. Accept, I pray you, the assurance of my great esteem and respect.
Your letter of March 22d has been duly received. By this time a printed copy of my MS. respecting the Batture has I hope been laid on your desk, by which you will perceive that the MS. itself has been received long enough to have been sent to New York, printed and returned to Washington.
On the subject of the omission of the officers of the Virginia State line, in the provisions and reservations of the cession of Congress, my memory enables me to say nothing more than that it was not through inattention, as I believe, but the result of compromise. But of this the President, who was in Congress when the arrangement was settled, can give the best account. I had nothing to do but execute a deed according to that arrangement, made previous to my being a member. Colonel Monroe being a member with me, is more likely to remember what passed at that time; but the best resource for explanation of everything we did, is in our weekly correspondence with the Governor of Virginia, which I suppose is still among the Executive records. We made it a point to write a letter to him every week, either jointly, or individually by turns.
You request me to state the public sentiment of our part of the country as to war and the taxes. You know I do not go out much. My own house and our court yard are the only places where I see my fellow citizens. As far as I can judge in this limited sphere, I think all regret that there is cause for war, but all consider it as now necessary, and would, I think, disapprove of a much longer delay of the declaration of it. As to the taxes, they expect to meet them, would be unwilling to have them postponed, and are only dissatisfied with some of the subjects of taxation; that is to say the stamp tax and excise. To the former I have not seen a man who is not totally irreconcilable. If the latter could be collected from those who buy to sell again, so as to prevent domiciliary visits by the officers, I think it would be acceptable, and I am sure a wholesome tax. I am persuaded the Secretary of the Treasury is mistaken in supposing so immense a deduction from the duties on imports. We shall make little less to sell than we do now, for no one will let his hands be idle ; and consequently we shall export not much less, and expect returns. Some part will be taken on the export and some on the import. But taking into account the advance of prices, that revenue will not f all so far short as he thinks ; and I have no doubt might be counted on to make good the entire suppression of the stamp tax. Yet, although a very disgusting pill, I think there can be no question the people will swallow it, if their representatives determine on it. I get their sentiments mostly from those who are most in the habit of intercourse with the people than I am myself. Accept the assurance of my great esteem and respect.
Dear Sir,The enclosed papers will explain themselves. Their coming to me is the only thing not sufficiently explained.
Your favor of the 3d came duly to hand. Although something of the kind had been apprehended, the embargo found the farmers and planters only getting their produce to market, and selling as fast as they could get it there. I think it caught them in this part of the State with one-third of their flour or wheat and three-quarters of their tobacco undisposed of. If we may suppose the rest of the middle country in the same situation, and that the upper and lower country may be judged by that as a mean, these will perhaps be the proportions of produce remaining in the hands of the producers. Supposing the objects of the government were merely to keep our vessels and men out of harms way, and that there is no idea that the want of our flour will starve Great Britain, the sale of the remaining produce will be rather desirable, and what would be desired even in war, and even to our enemies. For I am favorable to the opinion which has been urged by others, sometimes acted on, and now partly so by France and Great Britain, that commerce, under certain restrictions and licenses, may be indulged between enemies mutually advantageous to the individuals, and not to their injury as belligerents. The capitulation of Amelia Island, if confirmed, might favor this object, and at any rate get off our produce now on hand. I think a people would go through a war with much less impatience if they could dispose of their produce, and that unless a vent can be provided for them, they will soon become querulous and clamor for peace. They appear at present to receive the embargo with perfect acquiescence and without a murmur, seeing the necessity of taking care of our vessels and seamen. Yet they would be glad to dispose of their produce in any way not endangering them, as by letting it go from a neutral place in British vessels. In this way we lose the carriage only; but better that than both carriage and cargo. The rising of the price of flour, since the first panic is passed away, indicates some prospects in the merchants of disposing of it. Our wheat had greatly suffered by the winter, but is as remarkably recovered by the favorable weather of the spring. Ever affectionately yours.
Dear Sir,I have it now in my power to send you a piece of homespun in return for that I received from you. Not of the fine texture, or delicate character of yours, or to drop our metaphor, not filled as that was with that display of imagination which constitutes excellence in Belles Lettres, but a mere sober, dry and formal piece of logic. Ornari res ipsa negat. Yet you may have enough left of your old taste for law reading, to cast an eye over some of the questions it discusses. At any rate, accept it as the offering of esteem and friendship.
You wish to know something of the Richmond and Wabash prophets. Of Nimrod Hews I never heard before. Christopher Macpherson I have known for twenty years. He is a man of color, brought up as a book-keeper by a merchant, his master, and afterwards enfranchised. He had understanding enough to post up his ledger from his journal, but not enough to bear up against hypochondriac affections, and the gloomy forebodings they inspire. He became crazy, foggy, his head always in the clouds, and rhapsodizing what neither himself nor any one else could understand. I think he told me he had visited you personally while you were in the administration, and wrote you letters, which you have probably forgotten in the mass of the correspondences of that crazy class, of whose complaints, and terrors, and mysticisms, the several Presidents have been the regular depositories. Macpherson was too honest to be molested by anybody, and too inoffensive to be a subject for the mad-house; although, I believe, we are told in the old book, that "every man that is mad, and maketh himself a prophet, thou shouldest put him in prison and in the stocks."
The Wabash prophet is a very different character, more rogue than fool, if to be a rogue is not the greatest of all follies. He arose to notice while I was in the administration, and became, of course, a proper subject of inquiry for me. The inquiry was made with diligence. His declared object was the reformation of his red brethren, and their return to their pristine manner of living. He pretended to be in constant communication with the Great Spirit ; that he was instructed by him to make known to the Indians that they were created by him distinct from the whites, of different natures, for different purposes, and placed under different circumstances, adapted to their nature and destinies ; that they must return from all the ways of the whites to the habits and opinions of their forefathers ; they must not eat the flesh of hogs, of bullocks, of sheep, etc., the deer and buffalo having been created for their food; they must not make bread of wheat, but of Indian corn ; they must not wear linen nor woolen, but dress like their fathers in the skins and furs of animals; they must not drink ardent spirits, and I do not remember whether he extended his inhibitions to the gun and gunpowder, in favor of the bow and arrow. I concluded from all this, that he was a visionary, enveloped in the clouds of their antiquities, and vainly endeavoring to lead back his brethren to the fancied beatitudes of their golden age. I thought there was little danger of his making many proselytes from the habits and comfort they had learned from the whites, to the hardships and privations of savagism, and no great harm if he did. We let him go on, therefore, unmolested. But his followers increased till the English thought him worth corruption and found him corruptible. I suppose his views were then changed; but his proceedings in consequence of them were after I left the administration, and are, therefore, unknown to me; nor have I ever been informed what were the particular acts on his part, which produced an actual commencement of hostilities on ours. I have no doubt, however, that his subsequent proceedings are but a chapter apart, like that of Henry and Lord Liverpool, in the Book of the Kings of England.
Of this mission of Henry, your son had got wind in the time of the embargo, and communicated it to me. But he had learned nothing of the particular agent, although, of his workings, the information he had obtained appears now to have been correct. He stated a particular which Henry has not distinctly brought forward, which was that the Eastern States were not to be required to make a formal act of separation from the Union, and to take a part in the war against it ; a measure deemed much too strong for their people; but to declare themselves in a state of neutrality, in consideration of which they were to have peace and free commerce, the lure most likely to insure popular acquiescence. Having no indications of Henry as the intermediate in this negotiation of the Essex junto, suspicions fell on Pickering, and his nephew Williams, in London. If he was wronged in this, the ground of the suspicion is to be found in his known practices and avowed opinions, as that of his accomplices in the sameness of sentiment and of language with Henry, and subsequently by the fluttering of the wounded pigeons.
This letter, with what it encloses, has given you enough, I presume, of law and the prophets. I will only add to it, therefore, the homage of my respects to Mrs. Adams, and to yourself the assurances of affectionate esteem and respect.
Often has my heart smote me for delaying acknowledgments to you, receiving, as I do, such frequent proofs of your kind recollection in the transmission of papers to me. But instead of acting on the good old maxim of not putting off to tomorrow what we can do today, we are too apt to reverse it, and not to do today what we can put off to tomorrow. But this duty can be no longer put off. Today we are at peace; tomorrow, war. The curtain of separation is drawing between us, and probably will not be withdrawn till one, if not both of us, will be at rest with our fathers. Let me now, then, while I may, renew to you the declarations of my warm attachment, which in no period of life has ever been weakened, and seems to become stronger as the remaining objects of our youthful affections are fewer.
Our two countries are to be at war, but not you and I. And why should our two countries be at war, when by peace we can be so much more useful to one another ? Surely the world will acquit our government from having sought it. Never before has there been an instance of a nations bearing so much as we have borne. Two items alone in our catalogue of wrongs will forever acquit us of being the aggressors : the impressment of our seamen, and the excluding us from the ocean. The first foundations of the social compact would be broken up, were we definitively to refuse to its members the protection of their persons and property, while in their lawful pursuits. I think the war will not be short, because the object of England, long obvious, is to claim the ocean as her domain, and to exact transit duties from every vessel traversing it. This is the sum of her orders of council, which were only a step in this bold experiment, never meant to be retracted if it could be permanently maintained. And this object must continue her in war with all the world. To this I see no termination, until her exaggerated efforts, so much beyond her natural strength and resources, shall have exhausted her to bankruptcy. The approach of this crisis is, I think, visible in the departure of her precious metals, and depreciation of her paper medium. We, who have gone through that operation, know its symptoms, its course, and consequences. In England they will be more serious than elsewhere, because half the wealth of her people is now in that medium, the private revenue of her money-holders, or rather of her paper-holders, being, I believe, greater than that of her land-holders. Such a proportion of property, imaginary and baseless as it is, cannot be reduced to vapor but with great explosion. She will rise out of its ruins, however, because her lands, her houses, her arts will remain, and the greater part of her men. And these will give her again that place among nations which is proportioned to her natural means, and which we all wish her to hold. We believe that the just standing of all nations is the health and security of all. We consider the overwhelming power of England on the ocean, and of France on the land, as destructive of the prosperity and happiness of the world, and wish both to be reduced only to the necessity of observing moral duties. We believe no more in Bonapartes fighting merely for the liberty of the seas, than in Great Britains fighting for the liberties of mankind. The object of both is the same, to draw to themselves the power, the wealth and the resources of other nations. We resist the enterprises of England first, because they first come vitally home to us. And our feelings repel the logic of bearing the lash of George the III. for fear of that of Bonaparte at some future day. When the wrongs of France shall reach us with equal effect, we shall resist them also. But one at a time is enough; and having offered a choice to the champions, England first takes up the gauntlet.
The English newspapers suppose me the personal enemy of their nation. I am not so. I am an enemy to its injuries, as I am to those of France. If I could permit myself to have national partialities, and if the conduct of England would have permitted them to be directed towards her, they would have been so. I thought that in the administration of Mr. Addington, I discovered some dispositions toward justice, and even friendship and respect for us, and began to pave the way for cherishing these dispositions, and improving them into ties of mutual good will. But we had then a federal minister there, whose dispositions to believe himself, and to inspire others with a belief, in our sincerity, his subsequent conduct has brought into doubt; and poor Merry, the English minister here, had learned nothing of diplomacy but its suspicions, without head enough to distinguish when they were misplaced. Mr. Addington and Mr. Fox passed away too soon to avail the two countries of their dispositions. Had I been personally hostile to England, and biased in favor of either the character or views of her great antagonist, the affair of the Chesapeake put war into my hand. I had only to open it and let havoc loose. But if ever I was gratified with the possession of power, and of the confidence of those who had entrusted me with it, it was on that occasion when I was enabled to use both for the prevention of war, towards which the torrent of passion here was directed almost irresistibly, and when not another person in the United States, less supported by authority and favor, could have resisted it. And now that a definitive adherence to her impressments and orders of council renders war no longer avoidable, my earnest prayer is that our government may enter into no compact of common cause with the other belligerent, but keep us free to make a separate peace, whenever England will separately give us peace and future security. But Lord Liverpool is our witness that this can never be but by her removal from our neighborhood.
I have thus, for a moment, taken a range into the field of politics, to possess you with the view we take of things here. But in the scenes which are to ensue, I am to be but a spectator. I have withdrawn myself from all political intermeddlings, to indulge the evening of my life with what have been the passions of every portion of it, books, science, my farms, my family and friends. To these every hour of the day is now devoted. I retain a good activity of mind, not quite as much of body, but uninterrupted health. Still the hand of age is upon me. All my old friends are nearly gone. Of those in my neighborhood, Mr. Divers and Mr. Lindsay alone remain. If you could make it a partie quarree, it would be a comfort indeed. We would beguile our lingering hours with talking over our youthful exploits, our hunts on Peters mountain, with a long train of et cetera, in addition, and feel, by recollection at least, a momentary flash of youth. Reviewing the course of a long and sufficiently successful life, I find in no portion of it happier moments than those were. I think the old hulk in which you are, is near her wreck, and that like a prudent rat, you should escape in time. However, here, there, and everywhere, in peace or in war, you will have my sincere affections and prayers for your life, health and happiness.
To John Rodman.
Monticello, April 25, 1812.
Thomas Jefferson presents his compliments to Mr. Rodman, and his thanks for the translation of Montgalliards work which he has been so kind as to send him. It certainly presents some new and true views of the situation of England. It is a subject of deep regret to see a great nation reduced from an unexampled height of prosperity to an abyss of ruin, by the long-continued rule of a single chief. All we ought to wish as to both belligerent parties is to see them forced to disgorge what their ravenous appetites have taken from others, and reduced to the necessity of observing moral duties in future. If we read with regret what concerns England, the fulsome adulation of the author towards his own chief excites nausea and disgust at the state of degradation to which the mind of man is reduced by subjection to the inordinate power of another. He salutes Mr. Rodman with great respect.
SIR,Your letter of March 14th lingered much on the road, and a long journey before I could answer it, has delayed its acknowledgment till now. I am sorry your enterprise for establishing a factory on the Columbia river, and a commerce through the line of that river and the Missouri, should meet with the difficulties stated in your letter. I remember well having invited your proposition on that subject, and encouraged it with the assurance of every facility and protection which the government could properly afford. I considered as a great public acquisition the commencement of a settlement on that point of the western coast of America, and looked forward with gratification to the time when its descendants should have spread themselves through the whole length of that coast, covering it with free and independent Americans, unconnected with us but by the ties of blood and interest, and employing like us the rights of self-government. I hope the obstacles you state are not insurmountable ; that they will not endanger, or even delay the accomplishment of so great a public purpose. In the present state of affairs between Great Britain and us, the government is justly jealous of contraventions of those commercial restrictions which have been deemed necessary to exclude the use of British manufactures in these States, and to promote the establishment of similar ones among ourselves. The interests too of the revenue require particular watchfulness. But in the non-importation of British manufactures, and the revenue raised on foreign goods, the legislature could only have in view the consumption of our own citizens, and the revenue to be levied on that. We certainly did not mean to interfere with the consumption of nations foreign to us, as the Indians of the Columbia and Missouri are, or to assume a right of levying an impost on that consumption ; and if the words of the laws take in their supplies in either view, it was probably unintentional, and because their case not being under the contemplation of the legislature, has been inadvertently embraced by it. The question with them would be not what manufactures these nations should use, or what taxes they should pay us on them, but whether we should give a transit for them through our country. We have a right to say we will not let the British exercise that transit. But it is our interest as well as a neighborly duty to allow it when exercised by our own citizens only. To guard against any surreptitious introduction of British influence among those nations, we may justifiably require that no Englishman be permitted to go with the trading parties, and necessary precautions should also be taken to prevent this covering the contravention of our own laws and views. But these once securely guarded, our interest would permit the transit free of duty. And I do presume that if the subject were fully presented to the legislature, they would provide that the laws intended to guard our own concerns only, should not assume the regulation of those of foreign and independent nations ; still less that they should stand in the way of so interesting an object as that of planting the germ of an American population on the shores of the Pacific. From meddling however with these subjects it is my duty as well as my inclination to abstain. They are in hands perfectly qualified to direct them, and who knowing better the present state of things, are better able to decide what is right ; and whatever they decide on a full view of the case, I shall implicitly confide has been rightly decided. Accept my best wishes for your success, and the assurances of my great esteem and respect.
Dear Sir,Another communication is enclosed, and the letter of the applicant is the only information I have of his qualifications. I barely remember such a person as the secretary of Mr. Adams, and messenger to the Senate while I was of that body. It enlarges the sphere of choice by adding to it a strong federalist. The triangular war must be the idea of the Anglomen and malcontents, in other words, the federalists and quids. Yet it would reconcile neither. It would only change the topic of abuse with the former, and not cure the mental disease of the latter. It would prevent our eastern capitalists and seamen from employment in privateering, take away the only chance of conciliating them, and keep them at home, idle, to swell the discontents ; it would completely disarm us of the most powerful weapon we can employ against Great Britain, by shutting every port to our prizes, and yet would not add a single vessel to their number; it would shut every market to our agricultural productions, and engender impatience and discontent with that class which, in fact, composes the nation; it would insulate us in general negotiations for peace, making all the parties our opposers, and very indifferent about peace with us, if they have it with the rest of the world, and would exhibit a solecism worthy of Don Quixote only, that of a choice to fight two enemies at a time, rather than to take them by succession. And the only motive for all this is a sublimated impartiality, at which the world will laugh, and our own people will turn upon us in mass as soon as it is explained to them, as it will be by the very persons who are now laying that snare. These are the hasty views of one who rarely thinks on these subjects. Your own will be better, and I pray to them every success, and to yourself every felicity.
Dear Sir,I have taken the liberty of drawing the attention of the Secretary of War to a small depot of military stores at New London, and leave the letter open for your perusal. Be so good as to seal it before delivery. I really thought that General Dearborn had removed them to Lynchburg, undoubtedly a safer and more convenient deposit.
Our country is the only one I have heard of which has required a draught ; this proceeded from a mistake of the colonel, who thought he could not receive individual offers, but that the whole quota, 241, must present themselves at once. Every one, however, manifests the utmost alacrity; of the 241 there having been but ten absentees at the first muster called. A further proof is that Captain Carrs company of volunteer cavalry being specifically called for by the Governor, though consisting of but 28 when called on, has got up to 50 by new engagements since their call was known. The only inquiry they make is whether they are to go to Canada or Florida ? Not a man, as far as I have learned, entertains any of those doubts which puzzle the lawyers of Congress and astonish common sense, whether it is lawful for them to pursue a retreating enemy across the boundary line of the Union ?
I hope Barlows correspondence has satisfied all our Quixotes who thought we should undertake nothing less than to fight all Europe at once. I enclose you a letter from Dr. Bruff, a mighty good and very ingenious man. His method of manufacturing bullets and shot, has the merit of increasing their specific gravity greatly, (being made by composition,) and rendering them as much heavier and better than the common leaden bullet, as that is than an iron one. It is a pity he should not have the benefit of furnishing the public when it would be equally to their benefit also. God bless you.
By our post preceding that which brought your letter of May 21st, I had received one from Mr. Malcolm on the same subject with yours, and by the return of the post had stated to the President my recollections of him. But both your letters were probably too late ; as the appointment had been already made, if we may credit the newspapers.
You ask if there is any book that pretends to give any account of the traditions of the Indians, or how one can acquire an idea of them ? Some scanty accounts of their traditions, but fuller of their customs and characters, are given us by most of the early travellers among them ; these you know were mostly French. Lafitan, among them, and Adair an Englishman, have written on this subject; the former two volumes, the latter one, all in 4to. But unluckily Lafitan had in his head a preconceived theory on the mythology, manners, institutions and government of the ancient nations of Europe, Asia and Africa, and seems to have entered on those of America only to fit them into the same frame, and to draw from them a confirmation of his general theory. He keeps up a perpetual parallel, in all those articles, between the Indians of America and the ancients of the other quarters of the globe. He selects, therefore, all the facts and adopts all the falsehoods which favor this theory, and very gravely retails such absurdities as zeal for a theory could alone swallow. He was a man of much classical and scriptural reading, and has rendered his book not unentertaining. He resided five years among the Northern Indians, as a Missionary, but collects his matter much more from the writings of others, than from his own observation.
Adair too had his kink. He believed all the Indians of America to be descended from the Jews; the same laws, usages, rites and ceremonies, the same sacrifices, priests, prophets, fasts and festivals, almost the same religion, and that they all spoke Hebrew. For, although he writes particularly of the Southern Indians only, the Catawbas, Creeks, Cherokees, Chickasaws and Choctaws, with whom alone he was personally acquainted, yet he generalizes whatever he found among them, and brings himself to believe that the hundred languages of America, differing fundamentally every one from every other, as much as Greek from Gothic, yet have all one common prototype. He was a trader, a man of learning, a self-taught Hebraist, a strong religionist, and of as sound a mind as Don Quixote in ,whatever did not touch his religious chivalry. His book contains a great deal of real instruction on its subject, only requiring the reader to be constantly on his guard against the wonderful obliquities of his theory.
The scope of your inquiry would scarcely, I suppose, take in the three folio volumes of Latin of De Bry. In these, facts and fable are mingled together, without regard to any favorite system. They are less suspicious, therefore, in their complexion, more original and authentic, than those of Lafitan and Adair. This is a work of great curiosity, extremely rare, so as never to be bought in Europe, but on the breaking up and selling some ancient library. On one of these occasions a bookseller procured me a copy, which, unless you have one, is probably the only one in America.
You ask further, if the Indians have any order of priesthood among them, like the Druids, Bards or Minstrels of the Celtic nations ? Adair alone, determined to see what he wished to see in every object, metamorphoses their Conjurers into an order of priests, and describes their sorceries as if they were the great religious ceremonies of the nation. Lafitan called them by their proper names, Jongleurs, Devins, Sortileges ; De Bry praestigiatores ; Adair himself sometimes Magi, Archimagi, cunning men, Seers, rain makers ; and the modern Indian interpreters call them conjurers and witches. They are persons pretending to have communications with the devil and other evil spirits, to foretell future events, bring down rain, find stolen goods, raise the dead, destroy some and heal others by enchantment, lay spells, etc. And Adair, without departing from his parallel of the Jews and Indians, might have found their counterpart much more aptly, among the soothsayers, sorcerers and wizards of the Jews, their Gannes and Gambres, their Simon Magus, Witch of Endor, and the young damsel whose sorceries disturbed Paul so much ; instead of placing them in a line with their high-priest, their chief priests, and their magnificent hierarchy generally. In the solemn ceremonies of the Indians, the persons who direct or officiate, are their chiefs, elders and warriors, in civil ceremonies or in those of war ; it is the head of the cabin in their private or particular feasts or ceremonies; and sometimes the matrons, as in their corn feasts. And even here, Adair might have kept up his parallel, with ennobling his conjurers. For the ancient patriarchs, the Noahs, the Abrahams, Isaacs and Jacobs, and even after the consecration of Aaron, the Samuels and Elijahs, and we may say further, every one for himself offered sacrifices on the altars. The true line of distinction seems to be, that solemn ceremonies, whether public or private, addressed to the Great Spirit, are conducted by the worthies of the nation, men or matrons, while conjurers are resorted to only for the invocation of evil spirits. The present state of the several Indian tribes, without any public order of priests, is proof sufficient that they never had such an order. Their steady habits permit no innovations, not even those which the progress of science offers to increase the comforts, enlarge the understanding, and improve the morality of mankind. Indeed, so little idea have they of a regular order of priests, that they mistake ours for their conjurers, and call them by that name.
So much in answer to your inquiries concerning Indians, a people with whom, in the early part of my life, I was very familiar, and acquired impressions of attachment and commiseration for them which have never been obliterated. Before the Revolution, they were in the habit of coming often and in great numbers to the seat of government, where I was very much with them. I knew much the great Ontassete, the warrior and orator of the Cherokees; he was always the guest of my father, on his journeys to and from Williamsburg. I was in his camp when he made his great farewell oration to his people the evening before his departure for England. The moon was in full splendor, and to her he seemed to address himself in his prayers for his own safety on the voyage, and that of his people during his absence ; his sounding voice, distinct articulation, animated action, and the solemn silence of his people at their several fires, filled me with awe and veneration, although I did not understand a word he uttered. That nation, consisting now of about 2,000 warriors, and the Creeks of about 3,000 are far advanced in civilization. They have good cabins, enclosed fields, large herds of cattle and hogs, spin and weave their own clothes of cotton, have smiths and other of the most necessary tradesmen, write and read, are on the increase in numbers, and a branch of Cherokees is now instituting a regular representative government. Some other tribes are advancing in the same line. On those who have made any progress, English seductions will have no effect. But the backward will yield, and be thrown further back. Those will relapse into barbarism and misery, lose numbers by war and want, and we shall be obliged to drive them with the beasts of the forest into the stony mountains. They will be conquered, however, in Canada. The possession of that country secures our women and children forever from the tomahawk and scalping knife, by removing those who excite them; and for this possession orders, I presume, are issued by this time; taking for granted that the doors of Congress will re-open with a declaration of war. That this may end in indemnity for the past, security for the future, and complete emancipation from Anglomany, Gallomany, and all the manias of demoralized Europe, and that you may live in health and happiness to see all this, is the sincere prayer of yours affectionately.
Dear Sir,It has given me great pleasure to receive a letter from you. It seems as if, our ancient friends dying off, the whole mass of the affections of the heart survives undiminished to the few who remain. I think our acquaintance commenced in 1764, both then just of age. We happened to take lodgings in the same house in New York. Our next meeting was in the Congress of 1775, and at various times afterwards in the exercise of that and other public functions, until your mission to Europe. Since we have ceased to meet, we have still thought and acted together, "et idem velle, atque idem nolle, ea demum amicitia est." Of this harmony of principle, the papers you enclosed me are proof sufficient. I do not condole with you on your release from your government. The vote of your opponents is the most honorable mark by which the soundness of your conduct could be stamped. I claim the same honorable testimonial. There was but a single act of my whole administration of which that party approved. That was the proclamation on the attack of the Chesapeake. And when I found they approved of it, I confess I began strongly to apprehend I had done wrong, and to exclaim with the Psalmist, "Lord, what have I done that the wicked should praise me !"
What, then, does this English faction with you mean ? Their newspapers say rebellion, and that they will not remain united with us unless we will permit them to govern the majority. If this be their purpose, their anti-republican spirit, it ought to be met at once. But a government like ours should be slow in believing this, should put forth its whole might when necessary to suppress it, and promptly return to the paths of reconciliation. The extent of our country secures it, I hope, from the vindictive passions of the petty incorporations of Greece. I rather suspect that the principal office of the other seventeen States will be to moderate and restrain the local excitement of our friends with you, when they (with the aid of their brethren of the other States, if they need it) shall have brought the rebellious to their feet. They count on British aid. But what can that avail them by land ? They would separate from their friends, who alone furnish employment for their navigation, to unite with their only rival for that employment. When interdicted the harbors of their quondam brethren, they will go, I suppose, to ask a share in the carrying trade of their rivals, and a dispensation with their navigation act. They think they will be happier in an association under the rulers of Ireland, the East and West Indies, than in an independent government, where they are obliged to put up with. their proportional share only in the direction of its affairs. But I trust that such perverseness will not be that of the honest and well-meaning mass of the federalists of Massachusetts; and that when the questions of separation and rebellion shall be nakedly proposed to them, the Gores and the Pickerings will find their levees crowded with silk stocking gentry, but no yeomanry ; an army of officers without soldiers. I hope, then, all will still end well ; the Anglomen will consent to make peace with their bread and butter, and you and I shall sink to rest, without having been actors or spectators in another civil war.
How many children have you ? You beat me, I expect, in that count, but I you in that of our grandchildren. We have not timed these things well together, or we might have begun a re-alliance between Massachusetts and the Old Dominion, faithful companions in the War of Independence, peculiarly tallied in interests, by each wanting exactly what the other has to spare; and estranged to each other in latter times, only by the practices of a third nation, the common enemy of both. Let us live only to see this re-union, and I will say with old Simeon, "Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, for mine eyes have seen thy salvation." In that peace may you long remain, my friend, and depart only in the fulness of years, all passed in health and prosperity. God bless you.
P.S. June 13. I did not condole with you on the reprobation of your opponents, because it proved your orthodoxy. Yesterdays post brought me the resolution of the republicans of Congress, to propose you as Vice-President. On this I sincerely congratulate you. It is a stamp of double proof. It is a notification to the factionaries that their nay is the yea of truth, and its best test. We shall be almost within striking distance of each other. Who knows but you may fill up some short recess of Congress with a visit to Monticello, where a numerous family will hail you with a hearty country welcome.
Dear Sir, * * * * * * *
On the other subject of your letter, the application of the common law to our present situation, I deride with you the ordinary doctrine, that we brought with us from England the common law rights. This narrow notion was a favorite in the first moment of rallying to our rights against Great Britain. But it was that of men who felt their rights before they had thought of their explanation. The truth is, that we brought with us the rights of men; of expatriated men. On our arrival here, the question would at once arise, by what law will we govern ourselves ? The resolution seems to have been, by that system, with which we are familiar, to be altered by ourselves occasionally, and adapted to our new situation. The proofs of this resolution are to be found in the form of the oaths of the judges, 1. Henings Stat. 169. 187; of the Governor, ib. 504; in the act for a provisional government, ib. 372; in the preamble to the laws of 1661-2; the uniform current of opinions and decisions, and in the general recognition of all our statutes, framed on that basis. But the state of the English law at the date of our emigration, constituted the system adopted here. We may doubt, therefore, the propriety of quoting in our courts English authorities subsequent to that adoption; still more, the admission of authorities posterior to the Declaration of Independence, or rather to the accession of that King, whose reign, ab initio, was the very tissue of wrongs which rendered the Declaration at length necessary. The reason or it had inception at least as far back as the commencement of his reign. This relation to the beginning of his reign, would add the advantage of getting us rid of all Mansfields innovations, or civilizations of the common law. For however I admit the superiority of the civil over the common law code, as a system of perfect justice, yet an incorporation of the two would be like Nebuchadnezzars image of metals and clay, a thing without cohesion of parts. The only natural improvement of the common law, is through its homogeneous ally, the chancery, in which new principles are to be examined, concocted and digested. But when, by repeated decisions and modifications, they are rendered pure and certain, they should be transferred by statute to the courts of common law, and placed within the pale of juries. The exclusion from the courts of the malign influence of all authorities after the Georgium sidus became ascendant, would uncanonize Blackstone, whose book, although the most elegant and best digested of our law catalogue, has been perverted more than all others, to the degeneracy of legal science. A student finds there a smattering of everything, and his indolence easily persuades him that if he understands that book, he is master of the whole body of the law. The distinction between these, and those who have drawn their stores from the deep and rich mines of Coke and Littleton, seems well understood even by the unlettered common people, who apply the appellation of Blackstone lawyers to these ephemeral insects of the law.
Whether we should undertake to reduce the common law, our own, and so much of the English statutes as we have adopted, to a text, is a question of transcendent difficulty. It was discussed at the first meeting of the committee of the revised code, in 1776, and decided in the negative, by the opinions of Wythe, Mason and myself, against Pendleton and Thomas Lee. Pendleton proposed to take Blackstone for that text, only purging him of what was inapplicable or unsuitable to us. In that case, the meaning of every word of Blackstone would have become a source of litigation, until it had been settled by repeated legal decisions. And to come at that meaning, we should have had produced, on all occasions, that very pile of authorities from which it would be said he drew his conclusion, and which, of course, would explain it, and the terms in which it is couched. Thus we should have retained the same chaos of law-lore from which we wished to be emancipated, added to the evils of the uncertainty which a new text and new phrases would have generated. An example of this may be found in the old statutes, and commentaries on them, in Cokes second institute, but more remarkably in the institute of Justinian, and the vast masses explanatory or supplementary of that which fill the libraries of the civilians. We were deterred from the attempt by these considerations, added to which, the bustle of the times did not admit leisure for such an undertaking.
Your request of my opinion on this subject has given you the trouble of these observations. If your firmer mind in encountering difficulties would have added your vote to the minority of the committee, you would have had on your side one of the greatest men of our age, and like him, have detracted nothing from the sentiments of esteem and respect which I bore to him, and tender with sincerity the assurance of to yourself.
Nous voila donc, mon cher ami, en guerre avec lAngleterre. This was declared on the 18th. instant thirty years after the signature of our peace in 1782. Within these thirty years what a vast course of growth and prosperity we have had ! It is not ten years since Great Britain began a series of insults and injuries which would have been met with war in the threshold by any European power. This course has been unremittingly followed up by increasing wrongs, with glimmerings indeed of peaceable redress, just sufficient to keep us quiet, till she has had the impudence at length to extinguish even these glimmerings by open avowal. This would not have been borne so long, but that France has kept pace with England in iniquity of principle, although not in the power of inflicting wrongs on us. The difficulty of selecting a foe between them has spared us many years of war, and enabled us to enter into it with less debt, more strength and preparation. Our present enemy will have the sea to herself, while we shall be equally predominant at land, and shall strip her of all her possessions on this continent. She may burn New York, indeed, by her ships and congreve rockets, in which case we must burn the city of London by hired incendiaries, of which her starving manufacturers will furnish abundance. A people in such desperation as to demand of their government aut parcem, aut furcam, either bread or the gallows, will not reject the same alternative when offered by a foreign hand. Hunger will make them brave every risk for bread. The partisans of England here have endeavored much to goad us into the folly of choosing the ocean instead of the land, for the theatre of war. That would be to meet their strength with our own weakness, instead of their weakness with our strength. I hope we shall confine ourselves to the conquest of their possessions, and defence of our harbors, leaving the war on the ocean to our privateers. These will immediately swarm in every sea, and do more injury to British commerce than the regular fleets of all Europe would do. The government of France may discontinue their license trade. Our privateers will furnish them much more abundantly with colonial produce, and whatever the license trade has given them. Some have apprehended we should be overwhelmed by the new improvements of war, which have not yet reached us. But the British possess them very imperfectly, and what are these improvements ? Chiefly in the management of artillery, of which our country admits little use. We have nothing to fear from their armies, and shall put nothing in prize to their fleets. Upon the whole, I have known no war entered into under more favorable auspices.
Our manufacturers are now very nearly on a footing with those of England. She has not a single improvement which we do not possess, and many of them better adapted by ourselves to our ordinary use. We have reduced the large and expensive machinery for most things to the compass of a private family, and every family of any size is now getting machines on a small scale for their household purposes. Quoting myself as an example, and I am much behind many others in this business, my household manufactures are just getting into operation on the scale of a carding machine costing $60 only, which may be worked by a girl of twelve years old, a spinning machine, which may be made for $10, carrying 6 spindles for wool, to be worked by a girl also, another which can be made for $25, carrying 12 spindles for cotton, and a loom, with a flying shuttle, weaving its twenty yards a day. I need 2,000 yards of linen, cotton and woolen yearly, to clothe my family, which this machinery, costing $150 only, and worked by two women and two girls, will more than furnish. For fine goods there are numerous establishments at work in the large cities, and many more daily growing up ; and of merinos we have some thousands, and these multiplying fast. We consider a sheep for every person as sufficient for their woolen clothing, and this State and all to the north have fully that, and those to the south and west will soon be up to it. In other articles we are equally advanced, so that nothing is more certain than that, come peace when it will, we shall never again go to England for a shilling where we have gone for a dollars worth. Instead of applying to her manufacturers there, they must starve or come here to be employed. I give you these details of peaceable operations, because they are within my present sphere. Those of war are in better hands, who know how to keep their own secrets. Because, too, although a soldier yourself, I am sure you contemplate the peaceable employment of man in the improvement of his condition, with more pleasure than his murders, rapine and devastations.
Mr. Barnes, some time ago, forwarded you a bill of exchange for 5,500 francs, of which the enclosed is a duplicate. Apprehending that a war with England would subject the remittances to you to more casualties, I proposed to Mr. Morson, of Bordeaux, to become the intermediate for making remittances to you, which he readily acceded to on liberal ideas arising from his personal esteem for you, and his desire to be useful to you. If you approve of this medium I am in hopes it will shield you from the effect of the accidents to which the increased dangers of the seas may give birth. It would give me great pleasure to hear from you oftener. I feel great interest in your health and happiness. I know your feelings on the present state of the world, and hope they will be cheered by the successful course of our war, and the addition of Canada to our confederacy. The infamous intrigues of Great Britain to destroy our government (of which Henrys is but one sample), and with the Indians to tomahawk our women and children, prove that the cession of Canada, their fulcrum for these Machiavelian levers, must be a sine qua non at a treaty of peace. God bless you, and give you to see all these things, and many and long years of health and happiness.
Dear Sir,I duly received your favor of the 22d covering the declaration of war. It is entirely popular here, the only opinion being that it should have been issued the moment the season admitted the militia to enter Canada. * * * * *
To continue the war popular, two things are necessary mainly. 1. To stop Indian barbarities. The conquest of Canada will do this. 2. To furnish markets for our produce, say indeed for our flour, for tobacco is already given up, and seemingly without reluctance. The great profits of the wheat crop have allured every one to it ; and never was such a crop on the ground as that which we generally begin to cut this day. It would be mortifying to the farmer to see such an one rot in his barn. It would soon sicken him to war. Nor can this be a matter of wonder or of blame on him. Ours is the only country on earth where war is an instantaneous and total suspension of all the objects of his industry and support. For carrying our produce to foreign markets our own ships, neutral ships, and even enemy ships under neutral flag, which I would wink at, will probably suffice. But the coasting trade is of double importance, because both seller and buyer are disappointed, and both are our own citizens. You will remember that in this trade our greatest distress in the last war was produced by our own pilot boats taken by the British and kept as tenders to their larger vessels. These being the swiftest vessels on the ocean, they took them and selected the swiftest from the whole mass. Filled with men they scoured everything along shore, and completely cut up that coasting business which might otherwise have been carried on within the range of vessels of force and draught. Why should not we then line our coast with vessels of pilot-boat construction, filled with men, armed with cannonades, and only so much larger as to assure the mastery of the pilot boat ? The British cannot counter-work us by building similar ones, because, the fact is, however unaccountable, that our builders alone understand that construction. It is on our own pilot boats the British will depend, which our larger vessels may thus retake. These, however, are the ideas of a landsman only, Mr. Hamiltons judgment will test their soundness.
Our militia are much afraid of being called to Norfolk at this season. They all declare a preference of a March to Canada. I trust however that Governor Barbour will attend to circumstances, and so apportion the service among the counties, that those acclimated by birth or residence may perform the summer tour, and the winter service be allotted to the upper counties.
I trouble you with a letter for General Kosciusko. It covers a bill of exchange from Mr. Barnes for him, and is therefore of great importance to him. Hoping you will have the goodness so far to befriend the General as to give it your safest conveyance, I commit it to you, with the assurance of my sincere affections.
Your favor of May 19th, from New Orleans is just now received. I have no doubt that the information you will present to your countrymen on the subject of the Asiatic countries into which you have travelled, will be acceptable as sources both of amusement and instruction ; and the more so, as the observations of an American will be more likely to present what are peculiarities to us, than those of any foreigner on the same countries. In reading the travels of a Frenchman through the United States what he remarks as peculiarities in us, prove to us the contrary peculiarities of the French. We have the accounts of Barbary from European and American travellers. It would be more amusing if Melli Melli would give us his observations on the United States. If, with the foibles and follies of the Hindoos, so justly pointed out to us by yourselves and other travellers, we could compare the contrast of those which an Hindoo traveller would imagine he found among us, it might enlarge our instruction. It would be curious to see what parallel among us he would select for his Veeshni. What you will have seen in your western tour will also instruct many who often know least of things nearest home.
The charitable institution you have proposed to the city of New Orleans would undoubtedly be valuable, and all such are better managed by those locally connected with them. The great wealth of that city will insure its support, and the names subscribed to it will give it success. For a private individual, a thousand miles distant, to imagine that his name could add anything to what exhibits already the patronage of the highest authorities of the State, would be great presumption. It will certainly engage my best wishes, to which permit me to add for yourself the assurances of my respect.
I received by your last post through Mr. Hall, of Baltimore, a copy of your introductory lecture to a course of chemistry, for which accept my thanks. I have just entered on the reading of it, and perceive that I have a feast before me. I discover from an error of the binder, that my copy has duplicates of pages 122, 123, 126, 127, and wants altogether, pages 121, 124, 125, 128, and foreseeing that every page will be a real loss, and that the book has been printed at Carlisle, I will request your directions to the printer to enclose those four pages under cover to me at this place, near Milton. You know the just esteem which attached itself to Dr. Franklins science, because he always endeavored to direct it to something useful in private life. The chemists have not been attentive enough to this. I have wished to see their science applied to domestic objects, to malting, for instance, brewing, making cider, to fermentation and distillation generally, to the making of bread, butter, cheese, soap, to the incubation of eggs, etc. And I am happy to observe some of these titles in the syllabus of your lecture. I hope you will make the chemistry of these subjects intelligible to our good house-wives. Glancing over the pages of your book, the last one caught my attention, where you recommend to students the books on metaphysics. Not seeing De Tutt Tracys name there, I suspected you might not have seen his work. His first volume on Ideology appeared in 1800. I happen to have a duplicate of this, and will send it to you. Since that, has appeared his second volume on grammar and his third on logic. They are considered as holding the most eminent station in that line ; and considering with you that a course of anatomy lays the best foundation for understanding these subjects, Tracy should be preceded by a mature study of the most profound of all human compositions, Cabaniss "Rapports du Physique et du moral de lhomme."
In return for the many richer favors received from you, I send you my little tract on the batture of New Orleans, and Livingstons claim to it. I was at a loss where to get it printed, and confided it to the editor of the Edinburgh Review, re-printed at New York. But he has not done it immaculately. Although there are typographical errors in your lecture, I wonder to see so difficult a work so well done at Carlisle. I am making a fair copy of the catalogue of my library, which I mean to have printed merely for the use of the library. It will require correct orthography in so many languages, that I hardly know where I can get it done. Have you read the Review of Montesquieu, printed by Duane ? I hope it will become the elementary book of the youth at all our colleges. Such a reduction of Montesquieu to his true value had been long wanting in political study. Accept the assurance of my great and constant esteem and respect.
Dear Sir,Of all the faculties of the human mind that of memory is the first which suffers decay from age. Of the commencement of this decay, I was fully sensible while I lived in Washington, and it was my earliest monitor to retire from public business. It has often since been the source of great regret when applied to by others to attest transactions in which I had been agent, to find that they had entirely vanished from my memory. In no case has it given me more concern than in that which is the subject of your letter of the 2d instant : the supper given in 1807 to the workmen on the Capitol. Of this supper I have not the smallest recollection. If it ever was mentioned to me, not a vestige of it now remains in my mind. This failure of my memory is no proof the thing did not happen, but only takes from it the support of my testimony, which cannot be given for what is obliterated from it. I have looked among my papers to see if they furnish any trace of the matter, but I find none; and must therefore acquiesce in my incompetence to administer to truth on this occasion. I am sorry to learn that Congress has relinquished the benefit of the engagements of Andrei & Franzoni, on the sculpture of the Capitol. They are artists of a grade far above what we can expect to get again. I still hope they will continue to work on the basis of the appropriation made, and as far as that will go; so that what is done will be well done ; and perhaps a more favorable moment may still preserve them to us. With respect to yourself, the little disquietudes from individuals not chosen for their taste in works of art, will be sunk into oblivion, while the Representatives chamber will remain a durable monument of your talents as an architect. I say nothing of the Senate room, because I have never seen it. I shall live in the hope that the day will come when an opportunity will be given you of finishing the middle building in a style worthy of the two wings, and worthy of the first temple dedicated to the sovereignty of the people, embellishing with Athenian taste the course of a nation looking far beyond the range of Athenian destinies. In every situation, public or private, be assured of my sincere wishes for your prosperity and happiness, and of the continuance of my esteem and respect.
Dear Sir,Your favor of the 17th ultimo came duly to hand, and I have to thank you for the military manuals you were so kind as to send me. This is the sort of book most needed in our country, Where even the elements of tactics are unknown. The young have never seen service, and the old are past it, and of those among them who are not superannuated themselves, their science is become so. I see, as you do, the difficulties and defects we have to encounter in war, and should expect disasters if we had an enemy on land capable of inflicting them. But the weakness of our enemy there will make our first errors innocent, and the seeds of genius which nature sows with even hand through every age and country, and which need only soil and season to germinate, will develop themselves among our military men. Some of them will become prominent, and seconded by the native energy of our citizens, will soon, I hope, to our force add the benefits of skill. The acquisition of Canada this year, as far as the neighborhood of Quebec, will be a mere matter of marching, and will give us experience for the attack of Halifax the next, and the final expulsion of England from the American continent. Halifax once taken, every cock-boat of hers must return to England for repairs. Their fleet will annihilate our public force on the water, but our privateers will eat out the vitals of their commerce. Perhaps they will burn New York or Boston. If they do, we must burn the city of London, not by expensive fleets or congreve rockets, but by employing an hundred or two Jack-the-painters, whom nakedness famine, desperation and hardened vice, will abundantly furnish from among themselves. We have a rumor now afloat that the orders of council are repeated. The thing is impossible after Castlereaghs late declaration in Parliament, and the reconstruction of a Percival ministry.
I consider this last circumstance fortunate for us. The repeal of the orders of council would only add recruits to our minority, and enable them the more to embarrass our March to thorough redress of our past wrongs, and permanent security for the future. This we shall attain if no internal obstacles are raised up. The exclusion of their commerce from the United States, and the closing of the Baltic against it, which the present campaign in Europe will effect, will accomplish the, catastrophe already so far advanced on them. I think your anticipations of the effects of this are entirely probable, their arts, their science, and what they have left of virtue, will come over to us, and although their vices will come also, these, I think, will soon be diluted and evaporated in a country of plain honesty. Experience will soon teach the new-comers how much more plentiful and pleasant is the subsistence gained by wholesome labor and fair dealing, than a precarious and hazardous dependence on the enterprises of vice and violence. Still I agree with you that these immigrations will give strength to English partialities, to eradicate which is one of the most consoling expectations from the war. But probably the old hive will be broken up by a revolution, and a regeneration of its principles render intercourse with it no longer contaminating. A republic there like ours, and a reduction of their naval power within the limits of their annual facilities of payment, might render their existence even interesting to us. It is the construction of their government, and its principles and means of corruption, which make its continuance inconsistent with the safety of other nations. A change in its form might make it an honest one, and justify a confidence in its faith and friendship. That regeneration however will take a longer time than I have to live. I shall leave it to be enjoyed among you, and make my exit with a bow to it, as the most flagitious of governments I leave among men. I sincerely wish you may live to see the prodigy of its renovation, enjoying in the meantime health and prosperity.
I have little to add to my letter of June We have entered Upper Canada, and I think there can be no doubt of our soon having in our possession the whole of the St. Lawrence except Quebec. We have at this moment about two hundred privateers on the ocean, and numbers more going out daily. It is believed we shall fit out about a thousand in the whole. Their success has been already great, and I have no doubt they will cut up more of the commerce of England than all the navies of Europe could do, could those navies venture to sea at all. You will find that every sea on the globe where England has any commerce, and where any port can be found to sell prizes, will be filled with our privateers. God bless you and give you a long and happy life.
Dear Sir, * * * * * * * * *
I am glad of the re-establishment of a Percival ministry. The opposition would have recruited our minority by half way offers. With Canada in hand we can go to treaty with an off-set for spoliation before the war. Our farmers are cheerful in the expectation of a good price for wheat in Autumn. Their pulse will be regulated by this, and not by the successes or disasters of the war. To keep open sufficient markets is the very first object towards maintaining the popularity of the war, which is as great at present as could be desired. We have just had a fine rain of 1¼ inches in the most critical time for our corn. The weather during the harvest was as advantageous as could be. I am sorry to find you remaining so long at Washington. The effect on your health may lose us a great deal of your time; a couple of months at Montpelier at this season would not lose us an hour. Affectionate salutations to Mrs. Madison and yourself.
Dear Sir,I receive and return the congratulations of your letter of July 6 with pleasure, and join the great mass of my fellow citizens in saying, "Well done, good and faithful servants, receive the benedictions which your constituents are ready to give you." The British government seem to be doing late, what done earlier might have prevented war; to wit : repealing the orders in Council. But it should take more to make peace than to prevent war. The sword once drawn, full justice must be done. "Indemnification for the past and security for the future" should be painted on our banners. For 1,000 ships taken, and 6,000 seamen impressed, give us Canada for indemnification, and the only security they can give us against their Henrys, and the savages, and agree that the American flag shall protect the persons of those sailing under it, both parties exchanging engagements that neither will receive the seamen of the other on board their vessels. This done, I should be for peace with England and then war with France. One at a time is enough, and in fighting the one we need the harbors of the other for our prizes. Go on as you have begun, only quickening your pace, and receive the benedictions and prayers of those who are too old to offer anything else.
Dear Sir,I duly received your favor of the 14th. ultimo, covering a paper containing proceedings of the patriots of South Carolina. It adds another to the many proofs of their steady devotion to their own country. I can assure you the hearts of their fellow citizens in this State beat in perfect unison with them, and with their government. Of this their concurrence in the election of Mr. Madison and Mr. Gerry, at the ensuing election, will give sufficient proof. The schism in Massachusetts, when brought to the crisis of principle, will be found to be exactly the same as in the Revolutionary war. The monarchists will be left alone, and will appear to be exactly the tories of the last war. Had the repeal of the orders of council, which now seems probable, taken place earlier, it might have prevented war ; but much more is requisite to make peace"indemnification for the past, and security for the future," should be the motto of the war. 1,000 ships taken, 6,000 seamen impressed, savage butcheries of our citizens, and that they and their allies, the Spaniards, must retire from the Atlantic side of our continent as the only security or indemnification which will be effectual. Accept the assurances of my great esteem and respect.
Your favor of September the 20th has been duly received, and I cannot but be gratified by the assurance it expresses, that my aid in the councils of our government would increase the public confidence in them; because it admits an inference that they have approved of the course pursued, when I heretofore bore a part in those councils. I profess, too, so much of the Roman principle, as to deem it honorable for the general of yesterday to act as a corporal to-day, if his services can be useful to his country; holding that to be false pride, which postpones the public good to any private or personal considerations. But I am past service. The hand of age is upon me. The decay of bodily faculties apprises me that those of the mind cannot be unimpaired, had I not still better proofs. Every year counts by increased debility, and departing faculties keep the score. The last year it was the sight, this it is the hearing, the next something else will be going, until all is gone. Of all this I was sensible before I left Washington, and probably my fellow laborers saw it before I did. The decay of memory was obvious; it is now become distressing. But the mind too, is weakened. When I was young, mathematics was the passion of my life. The same passion has returned upon me, but with unequal powers. Processes which I then read off with the facility of common discourse, now cost me labor, and time, and slow investigation. When I offered this, therefore, as one of the reasons deciding my retirement from office, it was offered in sincerity and a consciousness of its truth. And I think it a great blessing that I retain understanding enough to be sensible how much of it I have lost, and to avoid exposing myself as a spectacle for the pity of my friends; that I have surmounted the difficult point of knowing when to retire. As a compensation for faculties departed, nature gives me good health, and a perfect resignation to the laws of decay which she has prescribed to all the forms and combinations of matter.
The detestable treason of Hull has, indeed, excited a deep anxiety in all breasts. The depression was in the first moment gloomy and portentous. But it has been succeeded by a revived animation, and a determination to meet the occurrence with increased efforts; and I have so much confidence in the vigorous minds and bodies of our countrymen, as to be fearless as to the final issue. The treachery of Hull, like that of Arnold, cannot be matter of blame on our government. His character, as an officer of skill and bravery, was established on the trials of the last war, and no previous act of his life had led to doubt his fidelity. Whether the Head of the war department is equal to his charge, I am not qualified to decide. I knew him only as a pleasant, gentlemanly man in society; and the indecision of his character rather added to the amenity of his conversation. But when translated from the colloquial circle to the great stage of national concerns, and the direction of the extensive operations of war, whether he has been able to seize at one glance the long line of defenceless border presented by our enemy, the masses of strength which we hold on different points of it, the facility this gave us of attacking him, on the same day, on all his points, from the extremity of the lakes to the neighborhood of Quebec, and the perfect indifference with which this last place, impregnable as it is, might be left in the hands of the enemy to fall of itself ; whether, I say, he could see and prepare vigorously for all this, or merely wrapped himself in the cloak of cold defence, I am uninformed. I clearly think with you on the competence of Monroe to embrace great views of action. The decision of his character, his enterprise, firmness, industry, and unceasing vigilance, would, I believe, secure, as I am sure they would merit, the public confidence, and give us all the success which our means can accomplish. If our operations have suffered or languished from any want of energy in the present head which directs them, I have so much confidence in the wisdom and conscientious integrity of Mr. Madison, as to be satisfied, that however torturing to his feelings, he will fulfil his duty to the public and to his own reputation, by making the necessary change. Perhaps he may be preparing it while we are talking about it; for of all these things I am uninformed. I fear that Hulls surrender has been more than the mere loss of a year to us. Besides bringing on us the whole mass of savage nations, whom fear and not affection has kept in quiet, there is danger that in giving time to an enemy who can send reinforcements of regulars f aster than we can raise them, they may strengthen Canada and Halifax beyond the assailment of our lax and divided powers. Perhaps, however, the patriotic efforts from Kentucky and Ohio, by recalling the British force to its upper posts, may yet give time to Dearborn to strike a blow below. Effectual possession of the river from Montreal to the Chaudiere, which is practicable, would give us the upper country at our leisure, and close forever the scenes of the tomahawk and scalping knife.
But these things are for others to plan and achieve. The only succor from the old must lie in their prayers. These I offer up with sincere devotion ; and in my concern for the great public, I do not overlook my friends, but supplicate for them, as I do for yourself, a long course of freedom, happiness and prosperity.
Your letter of August 29th is just now received, having lingered long on the road. I owe you much thankfulness for the favorable opinion you entertain of my services, and the assurance expressed that they would again be acceptable in the executive chair. But, Sir, I was sincere in stating age as one of the reasons of my retirement from office, beginning then to be conscious of its effects, and now much more sensible of them. Servile inertness is not what is to save our country ; the conduct of a war requires the vigor and enterprise of younger heads. All such undertakings, therefore, are out of the question with me, and I say so with the greater satisfaction, when I contemplate the person to whom the executive powers were handed over. You probably do not know Mr. Madison personally, or at least intimately, as I do. I have known him from 1779, when he first came into the public councils, and from three and thirty years, trial, I can say conscientiously that I do not know in the world a man of purer integrity, more dispassionate, disinterested and devoted to genuine republicanism ; nor could I, in the whole scope of America and Europe, point out an abler head. He may be illy seconded by others, betrayed by the Hulls and Arnolds of our country, for such there are in every country, and with sorrow and suffering we know it. But what man can do will be done by Mr. Madison. I hope, therefore, there will be no difference among republicans as to his re-election, and we shall know his value when we have to give him up, and to look at large for his successor. With respect to the unfortunate loss of Detroit and our army, I with pleasure see the animation it has inspired through our whole country, but especially through the Western States, and the determination to retrieve our loss and our honor by increased exertions. I am not without hope that the western efforts under General Harrison, may oblige the enemy to remain at their upper posts, and give Dearborn a fair opportunity to strike a blow below. A possession of the river from Montreal to the Chaudiere, gives us the upper country of course, and closes forever the scenes of the tomahawk and scalping knife. Quebec is impregnable, but it is also worthless, and may be safely left in their hands to fall of itself. The vigorous minds and bodies of our countrymen leave me no fear as to ultimate results. In this confidence I resign myself to the care of those whom in their younger days I assisted in taking care of, and salute you with assurances of esteem and respect.
Dear Sir,After an absence of five weeks at a distant possession of mine, to which I pay such visits three or four times a year, I find here your favor of November 30th. I am very thankful to you for the description of Redhefers machine. I had never before been able to form an idea of what his principle of deception was. He is the first of the inventors of perpetual motion within my knowledge, who has had the cunning to put his visitors on a false pursuit, by amusing them with a sham machinery whose loose and vibratory motion might impose on them the belief that it is the real source of the motion they see. To this device he is indebted for a more extensive delusion than I have before witnessed on this point. We are full of it as far as this State, and I know not how much farther. In Richmond they have done me the honor to quote me as having said that it was a possible thing. A poor Frenchman who called on me the other day, with another invention of perpetual motion, assured me that Dr. Franklin, many years ago, expressed his opinion to him that it was not impossible. Without entering into contest on this abuse of the Doctors name, I gave him the answer I had given to others before, that the Almighty himself could not construct a machine of perpetual motion while the laws exist which He has prescribed for the government of matter in our system ; that the equilibrium established by Him between cause and effect must be suspended to effect that purpose. But Redhefer seems to be reaping a rich harvest from the public deception. The office of science is to instruct the ignorant. Would it be unworthy of some one of its votaries who witness this deception, to give a popular demonstration of the insufficiency of the ostensible machinery, and of course of the necessary existence of some hidden mover ? And who could do it with more effect on the public mind than yourself ?
I received, at the same time, the Abbe Rochons pamphlets and book on his application of the double refraction of the Iceland Spath to the measure of small angles. I was intimate with him in France, and had received there, in many conversations, explanations of what is contained in these sheets. I possess, too, one of his lunettes which he had given to Dr. Franklin, and which came to me through Mr. Hopkinson. You are therefore probably acquainted with it. The graduated bar on each side is 12 inches long. The one extending to 37' of angle, the other to 3,438 diameter in distance of the object viewed. On so large a scale of graduation, a nonias might distinctly enough subdivide the divisions of 10" to 10" each ; which is certainly a great degree of precision. But not possessing the common micrometer of two semi-lenses, I am not able to judge of their comparative merit. * * * * * * * * *
Dear Sir,An absence of five or six weeks, on a journey I take three or four times a year, must apologize for my late acknowledgment of your favor of October 12th. After getting through the mass of business which generally accumulates during my absence, my first attention has been bestowed on the subject of your letter. I turned to the passages you refer to in Hutchinson and Winthrop, and with the aid of their dates, I examined our historians to see if Wollastons migration to this State was noticed by them. It happens, unluckily, that Smith and Stith, who alone of them go into minute facts, bring their histories, the former only to 1623, and the latter to 1624. Wollastons arrival in Massachusetts was in 1625, and his removal to this State was "some time" after. Beverly & Keith, who came lower down, are nearly superficial, giving nothing but those general facts which every one knew as well as themselves. If our public records of that date were not among those destroyed by the British on their invasion of this State, they may possibly have noticed Wollaston. What I possessed in this way have been given out to two gentlemen, the one engaged in writing our history, the other in collecting our ancient laws ; so that none of these resources are at present accessible to me. Recollecting that Nathaniel Morton, in his New England memorial, gives with minuteness the early annals of the colony of New Plymouth, and occasionally interweaves the occurrences of that on Massachusetts Bay, I recurred to him, and under the year 1628, I find he notices both Wollaston and Thomas Morton, and gives with respect to both, some details which are not in Hutchinson or Winthrop. As you do not refer to him, and so possibly may not have his book, I will transcribe from it the entire passage, which will prove at least my desire to gratify your curiosity as far as the materials within my power will enable me.
Extract from Nathaniel Mortons New Englands Memorial, pp. 93 to 99, Anno 1628. "Whereas about three years before this time, there came over one Captain Wollaston,* a man of considerable parts, and with him three or four more of some eminency who brought with them a great many servants, with provisions and other requisites for to begin a plantation, and pitched themselves in a place within the Massachusetts Bay, which they called afterwards by their captains name, Mount Wollaston; which place is since called by the name of Braintry. And amongst others that came with him, there was one Mr. Thomas Morton, who, it should seem, had some small adventure of his own or other mens amongst them, but had little respect, and was slighted by the meanest servants they kept. They having continued some time in New England, and not finding things to answer their expectation, nor profit to arise as they looked for, the said Captain Wollaston takes a great part of the servants and transports them to Virginia, and disposed of them there, and writes back to one Mr. Rasdale, one of his chief partners, (and accounted then merchant,) to bring another part of them to Virginia, likewise intending to put them off there as he had done the rest; and he, with the consent of the said Rasdale, appointed one whose name was Filcher, to be his Lieutenant, and to govern the remainder of the plantation until he or Rasdale should take further order thereabout. But the aforesaid Morton, (having more craft than honesty,) having been a petty-fogger at Furnivals-inn, he, in the others absence, watches an opportunity, (commons being put hard among them,) and got some strong drink and other junkets, and made them a feast, and after they were merry, he began to tell them he would give them good counsel. You see, (saith he,) that many of your fellows are carried to Virginia, and if you stay still until Rasdales return, you will also be carried away and sold for slaves with the rest; therefore I would advise you to thrust out Lieutenant Filcher, and I having a part in the plantation, will receive you as my partners, and consociates, so you may be free from service, and we will converse, plant, trade and live together as equals (or to the like effect). This counsel was easily followed; so they took opportunity, and thrust Lieutenant Filcher out of doors, and would not suffer him to come any more amongst them, but forced him to seek bread to eat and other necessaries amongst his neighbors, till he would get passage for England, (See the sad effect of want of good government.)
"After this they fell to great licentiousness of life, in all prophaneness, and the said Morton became lord of misrule, and maintained (as it were) a school of Atheism, and after they had got some goods into their hands, and got much by trading with the Indians, they spent it as vainly, in quaffing and drinking both wine and strong liquors in great excess, (as some have reported,) ten pounds worth in a morning, setting up a May pole, drinking and dancing about like so many fairies, or furies rather, yea and worse practices, as if they had anew revived and celebrated the feast of the Roman goddess Flora, or the beastly practices of the mad Bacchanalians. The said Morton likewise to show his poetry, composed sundry rythmes and verses, some tending to licentiousness, and others to the detraction and scandal of some persons names, which he affixed to his idle or idol May-pole ; they changed also the name of their place, and instead of calling it Mount Wollaston, they called it the Merry Mount, as if this jollity would have lasted always. But this continued not long, for shortly after that worthy gentleman Mr. John Antacid, who brought over a patent under the broad seal of England for the government of the Massachusetts, visiting those parts, caused that Maypole to be cut down, and rebuked them for their prophaneness, and admonished them to look to it that they walked better ; so the name was again changed and called Mount Dagon.
" Now to maintain this riotous prodigality and profuse expense, the said Morton thinking himself lawless, and hearing what gain the fishermen made of trading of pieces, powder, and shot, he as head of this consortship, began the practice of the same in these parts ; and first he taught the Indians how to use them, to charge and discharge em, and what proportion of powder to give the piece, according to the size of bigness of the same, and what shot to use for fowl, and what for deer; and having instructed them, he employed some of them to hunt and fowl for him; so as they became somewhat more active in that imployment than any of the English, by reason of their swiftness of foot, and nimbleness of body, being also quick-sighted, and by continual exercise, well knowing the haunt of all sorts of game ; so as when they saw the execution that a piece would do, and the benefit that might come by the same, they became very eager after them, and would not stick to give any price they could attain to for them; accounting their bows and arrows but baubles in comparison of them.
" And here we may take occasion to bewail the mischief which came by this wicked man, and others like unto him; in that notwithstanding laws for the restraint of selling ammunition to the natives, that so far base covetousness prevailed, and doth still prevail, as that the Salvages became amply furnished with guns, powder, shot, rapiers, pistols, and also well skilled in repairing of defective arms : yea some have not spared to tell them how gunpowder is made, and all the materials in it, and they are to be had in their own land; and would (no doubt, in case they could attain to the making of Saltpeter) teach them to make powder, and what mischief may fall out unto the English in these parts thereby, let this pestilent fellow Morton (aforenamed) bear a great part of the blame and guilt of it to future generations. But lest I should hold the reader too long in relation to the particulars of his vile actings ; when as the English that then lived up and down about the Massachusetts, and in other places, perceiving the sad consequences of his trading, so as the Indians became furnished with the English arms and ammunition, and expert in the improving of them, and fearing that they should at one time or another get a blow thereby; and also taking notice, that if he were let alone in his way, they should keep no servants for him, because he would entertain any, how vile soever, sundry of the chief of the straggling plantations met together, and agreed by mutual consent to send to Plimouth, who were then of more strength to join with them, to suppress this mischief ; who considering the particulars proposed to them to join together to take some speedy course to prevent (if it might be) the evil that was accruing towards them; and resolved first to admonish him of his wickedness respecting the premises, laying before him the injury he did to their common safety, and that his acting considering the same was against the Kings proclamation; but he insolently persisted on in his way, and said the King was dead, and his displeasure with him, and threatened them that if they come to molest him, they should look to themselves; so that they saw that there was no way but to take him by force; so they resolved to proceed in such a way, and obtained of the Governor of Plimouth to send Capt. Standish and some other aid with him, to take the said Morton by force, the which accordingly was done; but they found him to stand stiffly on his defence, having made fast his doors, armed his consorts, set powder and shot ready upon the table; scoffed and scorned at them, he and his complices being filled with strong drink, were desperate in their way; but he himself coming out of doors to make a shot at Capt. Standish, he stepping to him put by his piece and took him, and so little hurt was done ; and so he was brought prisoner to Plimouth, and continued in durance till an opportunity of sending him for England, which was done at their common charge, and letters also with him, to the honorable council for New England, and returned again into the country in some short time, with less punishment than his demerits deserved (as was apprehended). The year following he was again apprehended, and sent for England, where he lay a considerable time in Exeter gaol; for besides his miscarriage here in New England, he was suspected to have murdered a man that had ventured monies with him when he came first into New England; and a warrant was sent over from the Lord Chief Justice to apprehend him, by virtue whereof, he was by the Governor of Massachusetts sent into England, and for other of his misdemeanors amongst them in that government, they demolished his house, that it might no longer be a roost for such unclean birds. Notwithstanding he got free in England again, and wrote an infamous and scurrilous book against many godly and chief men of the country, full of lies and slanders, and full fraught with prophane calumnies against their names and persons, and the way of God. But to the intent I may not trouble the reader any more with mentioning of him in this history ; in fine, sundry years after he came again into the country, and was imprisoned at Boston for the aforesaid book and other things, but denied sundry things therein, affirming his book was adulterated. And soon after being grown old in wickedness, at last ended his life at Piscataqua. But I fear I have held the reader too long about so unworthy a person, but hope it may be useful to take notice how wickedness was beginning, and would have further proceeded, had it not been prevented timely."
So far Nathaniel Morton. The copy you have of Thomas Mortons New English Canaan, printed in 1637 by Stam of Amsterdam, was a second edition of that "infamous and scurrilous book against the godly." The first had been printed in 1632, by Charles Green, in a quarto of 188 pages, and is the one alluded to by N. Morton. Both of them made a part of the American library given by White Kennett in 1713 to the Society for the propagation of the Gospel in foreign parts. This society being a chartered one, still, as I believe, existing, and probably their library also, I suppose that these and the other books of that immense collection, the catalogue of which occupies 275 pages quarto, are still to be found with them. If any research I can hereafter make should ever bring to my knowledge anything more of Wollaston, I shall not fail to communicate it to you. Ever and affectionately yours.
* This gentlemans name is here occasionally used and although he came over in the year 1625, yet these passages in reference to Morton fell out about this year, and therefore referred to this place.