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“ social; it thoroughly pervades and perceptibly modifies even “ their domestic lite; it is protected by religion and the laws; it “ is linked with every habit, opinion, and interest; it has, in fine, “ become the common reason and the want of all the American
people. Propose slavery to such a people-talk to them of “ unity in the head, multiply your sophisms as you please to
prove to them the paternity of arbitrary power, they will never “ understand you. We must not suppose that the love of con“ quest, that fatal passion, will master, or lead astray the coun“ cils of a nation, which, setting out from a line of nearly fifteen “ hundred leagues of coast, may spread the noble and hallowed “ empire of industry and the arts, from the shores of the North“ ern Ocean to those of the Pacific.”
To this just and forcible exposition, I have no desire to add any thing of my own; but, with a view to show how little reliance is to be placed on sinister predictions coming from abroad* relative to the fate of our Union and free institutions, I cannot refrain from going back to some of those which were made to us during our Revolutionary war. I would have the American reader compare with our happy experience, the following passage of an Address of the British Opposition of 1777, to the Colonists in North America, written by Mr. Burke, more justly famed for political foresight, more zealous in our cause, and supposed to be better acquainted with our character and situation, than any other English statesman.
“ That very liberty which you prize above all things, “ originated here, in England; and it may be very doubtful
whether, without being constantly fed from the original foun“tain, it can be at all perpetuated or preserved in its native
purity and perfection. None but England can communicate to you the benefits of a free constitution. We apprehend that you
are not now, nor for ages are likely to be, capable of that “ form of constitution (a limited monarchy) in an independent
state. Besides, let us suggest to your apprehensions, that your present union cannot always subsist without the authority and
weight of this great and long respected body, to equipoise, “ and to preserve you among yourselves in a just and fair equa"lity. It may not even be impossible that a long course of war
* See the Abbé de Pradt's work on Colonies, ch. xxx. title “ What will be the fate of the United States.?” The speculations of the author on this head are idle and fanciful, as he is without the knowledge of details necessary for the construction of a sound theory. Almost every page of his work abounds with errors, particularly of fact; and it is evident throughout, that he is pretty indifferent about accuracy of any sort, or even the confirmation of his theories, provided they are bought, read and admired.
“ with the administration of this country, may be but a prelude "to a series of wars and contentions among yourselves, &c.”
It must be confessed that our conduct in relation to the successful candidates for public office, and the laws regularly enacted among us, has not been always such as M. de Marbois describes it in his Preliminary Discourse. We have not always treated the former with marks of veneration, or obeyed the latter without a murmur. But our most censurable lapses from this rule of republican reason,ấtoo nice, perhaps, for human nature,
are to be traced to excitements from abroad which can never be again felt, at least in any thing like the same degree or spirit. We were kindled into a ferment and betrayed into excesses not natural to our character, or imputable to our institutions. The war in which we engaged had, from the same and other causes, an anomalous nature and influence: it was more inflammatory for our passions, and trying for our Union, than any in which we can be hereafter involved.
The French Revolution, the subsequent elaborate action upon us of the governments of France and England, and the late war, have, I conceive, reached and put to the test the vulnerable parts of our political system and social character; they plunged us into a premature struggle with all our infirmities, more than is likely will ever again co-exist; they roused into the utmost possible activity all the unruly passions of our democracy, and the anti-federal principles upon which our foreign assailants calculated. We know the happy result, and may draw confidence from it for the future.
In proof of our natural moderation, and aptitude to realize the picture which M. de Marbois gives of our patriotic ductility, we may cite what is now passing under our eyes, in the tour of the new President of the United States. I should rejoice in this laudable undertaking, if it had no other feature of usefulness, than its tendency to convince foreign nations with what cheerfulness and ease, we rally to the standard of a national feeling when left to ourselves. They may learn, by the reception of Mr. Munroe, wherever he has appeared, and particularly at Boston, how little stress they should lay upon the efficacy of the past, or any future party divisions among us, to promote the hostile designs which they may cherish. When M. de Marbois shall read the details with which our newspapers are filled on this subject, he will find, if he have attended to the history of our domestic feuds, the most complete and edifying verification of his statement, which could fall within the compass of his wishes as an author or a philanthropist.
The loftiest encomiums are passed upon this “History of the Conspiracy of Arnold," in all the French Journals of any authority. It is pronounced to be a chef d'ouvre in some, placed,
in others, on a level with St. Reals' Conjuration de Vénise, and universally applauded for the perfection of the literary execution. I have never wilfully forsaken the sense of the author, and have approached as near as possible to his modes of expression and the general character of his style. He must appear to disadvantage in any translation; and particularly in one, to which the time necessary for a correspondent refinement of diction, could not be allotted. I have omitted no part of the text, except a long letter from an emissary of Sir Henry Clinton, supposed to have been found among the papers of Arnold, and which contains an enumeration of the most plausible motives to defection from the American cause. I have not been able to discover elsewhere any trace of such a letter; and I wished to introduce none of the documents which purport to be versions from the English, otherwise than in the original dress. It has, moreover, no material connexion with the narrative, nor any great intrinsic interest. The interpolation into a professed history of speeches or letters—however apposite they may be in the tenor, or eloquent in the fabrication—although conformable to the practice of the ancients, is still a reprehensible license. It has found more indulgence upon the continent than in England.
The author has chosen to treat his subject as a conspiracy pot only against the United States, but against General Washington; and has ascribed the design upon the person of the illustrious commander to Major André. We must presume, that he has sufficient authority for this imputation. It is a serious one; because, although the project might redound to the credit of André's intrepidity, it must detract from the so much emblazoned hardship of his fato. Our sympathies and regrets can no longer be the same. We must regard him not as the victim, but as even more than the accomplice of Arnold, and much of the dramatic effect of the finely wrought catastrophe of our author, is lost by the intrusion of this idea. Hamilton is silent in his Narrative, as to any plan for the capture of General Washington. It might, however, very naturally have engaged the attention of the conspirators. There is something on this point which deserves notice in the following extract from a private letter of Washington, of October 18th, 1780, quoted by Gordon, in the 3d Vol. of his History of the American Revolution. “In no instance since the commencement of the war, has "s the interposition of Providence appeared more remarkably “conspicuous than in the rescue of the post and garrison of “ West-Point. How far Arnold meant to involve me in the ca"tastrophe of this place does not appear by any indubitable evi
dence, and I am rather inclined to think he did not wish to “ hazard the more important object, by attempting to com“bine two events, the lesser of which might have marred the "greater.”
There will be found at p. 148, of this volume of the Register, a sketch of the debate held in Congress in the month of January last, concerning the captors of André; and in p. 237, the complete vindication of these respectable men from the aspersions so unadvisedly cast upon them. For all who feel as I do on this subject, the controversy will give additional zest to that part of the work of M. de Marbois, in which he has occasion to introduce Paulding, Williams, and Van Wart. Relying on the public Sense of the importance of the service, of the benefit of the example, of the beauty of the trait, of the deference due to the unanimous opinion of the Revolutionary Congress and army, M. de Marbois does not hesitate to assert, “that the families “of the captors of André are held in veneration, and that their "names will be celebrated and cherished in all after ages.”
I trust that he is right, notwithstanding the ungracious and impolitic attempt of a member of the House of Representatives, to wrest from them their titles never before questioned, to the gratitude and respect of the nation. There was a prescription in their favour, -I might say in favour of the country, that reaped so much honour from their act, which no American at least, should have allowed himself to disturb. If the world and ourselves had laboured under a delusion, it involved so just an exemplification of the character of the American yeoman, and so persuasive a moral for the humbler walks of life, it furnished so ornamental a page for the national annals, that it should not have been dispelled but upon some motive much higher than a small saving to the treasury.
Could General Washington and all those eminent personages who concurred with him in stamping Vincit amor patriæ upon the medal, have, with their opportunities of knowledge, mistaken the nature of the case? Or, would they have gone so far in the celebration and recompense, if they had entertained a suspicion akin with the suggestions hazarded in the late Congress?
Tould they have made so heavy a sacrifice of truth and justice to the policy of the moment, when they could have been so easily detected in the imposition and defeated in their end? As the captors of André did refuse his watch and purse, and secure his person, it could be no more than conjecture on his part,
when he stated, that the result would have been different had he had more to give, or some guaranty to offer. And what weight can reasonably be attached to a conjecture of the sort, under such circumstances? The deplorable situation to which he saw himself reduced by their inflexibility, must have embittered his feelings towards them, and warped his judgment as to their dispositions. We ought instantly to reject the representations of a man tortured by the contrast which they had produced in his fortunes, and whe, in all likelihood, shared largely at the same time, in the contempt and antipathy which were but too com
monly entertained or affected by the British officers for the Americans in general. The national pride of André made it perhaps, incomprehensible to him, that three American husbandmen could be superior to all temptations of gain, in the discharge of a duty to their country.
Planta remarks, in his History of Switzerland, that William Tell had been more than once branded with the opprobrious appellation of conspirator and assassin. The glory of Tell shines out nevertheless, with undiminished lustre, and the Swiss continue to revere the memory of their rustic benefactor. Congress, I humbly conceive, should have welcomed the petition of John Paulding, for an increase of pension, and seized the opportunity to augment the annuities of his companions,-in testimony of its unshaken faith in the virtue of these men, and the unabated gratitude of the nation for the inestimable service they had rendered. This would have been acting even as to the pecuniary reward, in the sense of the Revolutionary Congress, which plainly indicated its wish to secure to them a fixed value, by the terms employed in the original resolution-"two hundred dollars in specie, or an equivalent in the current money of the State.” During the late war their allowance must have fallen far short of the intended compensation.
One feels, now a days, rather awkward in appealing to the heroic times, for precedents to influence governments; and it is, perhaps, idle to do so; but I cannot help recalling the conduct of the Athenian Republic towards Harmodius and Aristogiton, who, in delivering their country from one of the Pisistratidæ, performed an exploit of which the consequences
important as they were-cannot be compared, in price, with those of the frustration of Arnold's Conspiracy. The Athenians, although they knew that the two young citizens who dealt the first blow to the tyranny under which they groaned, were actuated primarily by resentment for a private affront, did not pause to investigate or appraise the motive, nor coldly limit their regard to the question of common duty: They considered only the advantages of the deed, the personal sacrifice of the actors, and the fecundity of the example. They erected statues to Harmodius and Aristogiton; they granted, in perpetuity, valuable privileges to their descendants; they decreed that their names should never be profaned by being given to slaves; that they should be forever celebrated at the Panathenæa, the principal festivals of the Republic; that songs should be composed and sung in their honour at the public games, and in the theatres, &c.
The readers of the Register, will not find any thing absolutely new in the extract from the Memoirs of Marshal Rochambeau, which, as I have intimated, occupies a space originally intended for other matter. But those who feel the proper concern in our