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peopled by a nation now unknown among us--the mind is lost in the grandeur of the results which may ultimately crown with new revolutions in inorals, religion, and politics, the ordainments of the humble French
He now lives to immortality, the first and last of his race -beyond the power of fortune to bring shame on his escutcheon, or blot upon his name.
"*** We may challenge envy to exhaust her worst detraction against the benevolent motives of that excellent and extraordinary man. His first legacy of 30,000 dollars to the Pennsylvania Hospital is, in itself, evidence conclusive, if evidence were wanting, of the humanity of his heart and purity of his feelings.
“* * * Even the glory of the Cæsars shall fade away and be forgotten, when the lustre of the name of Stephen Girard shall remain undimmed and entire.
“ Yes, his will speaks to us in a noble, an exalted, and a sublime strain : effusing the philosophy of Plato, blended with the moral admonitions and sage maxims of Seneca. . No man ever before, perhaps, made a will which affords so striking an illustration and commentary on his life as Stephen Girard.
He, with the sagacity of the true statesman and the benevolence of an enlightened lover of his kind, commenced the melioration of mankind at the right end, and flung into the fountain of life the sweet infusion of knowledge, virtue, industry, and temperance. ... He was a good citizen and an excellent neighbour ; Lenevolent, kind, and attentive; nursing those who were sick, and becoming a father to the fatherless,
“* * * Nature had evidently given him large and warm affections.... The crisis which unlocked the fingers of Girard from his property near his last moments restored his heart to its natural elasticity of beneyolence: the living springs of sympathy for his kind gushed forth afresh, and the great and good man stood disenthralled of the temporary crust which the customs of a hard and selfish world had gathered about him.
« * * * It is to be recorded, to the enduring credit of Stephen Girard, that his reputation for just dealing is as little impeached, and that in the least material points, as that of men who have never experienced one hundredth part of his temptation-whether we consider the force of his passions, naturally violent, the extent and duration of his business, without a parallel, or the frequency and tempting nature of his opportunities, perhaps never before equalled.
“ The general mass of mankind are perplexed to see the greatness of Girard. They can see his littleness manifested in his arts of getting and saving money, but they cannot discern that higher range of thought which Ascends to the purest regions of science, generalization, and
truth, or the equally exalted and not less salubrious atmosphere of patriotism and benevolence.
“ Few men made so bad a first impression upon the spectator as Stephen Girard. His person was altogether unprepossessing. His humble and vulgar exterior-his cold, abstracted, and taciturn habits--did not fail to excite in the mind of the superficial or transient observer, who made up his opinion through the medium of the eye, a feeling approaching to absolute contempt. Resembling a short and square-built old sailor, his person associated ideas the very opposite of everything that tends to inspire respect or awaken your esteem towards the man you survey. His wall-eye, too, assisted to strengthen the prejudice that you conceived against him at first sight, and the contrast exhibited between his person, his habiliments, and his fortune, all contributed to complete a picture of the most unamiable and repulsive kind, according to the general method of estimating men by their outward trappings and physical properties: the coarse texture and sober tints of his garments, which excited contempt, afforded the strongest evidence of his merit; and his square, short, and unseemly stature - his large feet and immense strides — will give but a faint idea of the shell of a man whose mind soared to the sublime magnitude of heroic virtue and conception, and will afford no criterion by which to judge of the great qualities which dwelt within him.
“ * * *. Most of those in his employ looked upon him as a being approaching to the gods.
5* * * A more orthodox and practical republican never lived than Stephen Girard.”
Is there another man in the world, except an American biographer, that would string together and put forth such a tissue of inconsistencies as the above with an expectation that the roses only would be considered ? This is a specimen of the whole; the same absurdities are to be found from the first paragraph to the last of the book, containing nearly three hundred
pages. I give these extracts for three reasons: First, that you may know something of the character of Girard. Second, that
you may know something of the character of a Pennsylvanian writer, who is here called, on account of his great talent, the “ American Cobbett.” And third, that you may know what is required to make up an orthodox, practical republican, according to the modern and much approved standard.
Here is a monster, as described by the biographer, composed of every vile thing that is revolting to human nature; and yet he says, that "a more orthodox and practical republican never lived;" that, upon the whole, Girard was “honest, benevolent, kind, enlightened, good, and great ;” and that he died without a spot or blemish on his name. No
wonder, if this be a sample of republicanism, that republics have not, according to the predictions of Paine, “expanded to the remotest parts of the globe." Here is a callous-hearted wretch, without a particle of feeling, friendship, pity, love, or commiseration ; one who would suffer relation, companion, confidential agent, or no matter whom, to sicken and die around him, rather than part from a grain of his ill-gotten gold to save one among them. “He would stand unmoved, like the eternal statue of Death, with the waves of human misery beating at his feet. Misery and Want might groan in their humble cells, but he heard and saw them not when his gold was asked.” Oh! for any government rather than republican, if this be orthodox. I do not say that it is so, but Mr. Simpson says that it is so; and Mr. Simpson is a native-born republican, a literary man, and a great instructor of his fellow-citizens. If he is to be believed, then Pity may plead, but Ambition has left no sense--in the orthodox, practical republican--open to her prayers. Such a republican knows not the meaning of the word friend ; the whole course of his life refutes the hypothesis of his being accessible to such an emotion. Totally destitute of sympathy, feeling, and refinement, placing no more estimate upon men than upon so many machines or instruments by which to acquire money, and all other considerations faded
away before his eyes. He never consulted the feelings of others; 80 that he could filch their money, he cared not who was killed or wounded. He lessened the measure, and cheated in all manner of ways; to which he owed the immense wealth that he possessed. He was mean and griping in all his contracts, and would make a man work harder, longer, and for less wages than he ought to do, or than he would be required to do by any other despot. He would force a poor religious man to work on Sunday. He resorted to the Statute of Limitation to avoid paying a just debt. In fact, he was guided by the fear of the halter only, as to how far he should carry his villanous propensities. “No good man,” Simpson remarks, “could have grown so'rich, and no just man could have died so stoically as he did. However, a more orthodox and practical republican never lived than Stephen Girard!” So says Mr. Simpson; and, if it be true, then we need no longer wonder at the things that have come upon us, or that all the world detest us for our cruelty in trafficking even in human flesh and blood, and for our avarice generally, which has led us, in numerous instances in this city, to tumble the bones, aye, and the flesh too, before they had parted, of our fathers and mothers, relatives and friends, out of their graves, into holes in the highways, so that their former resting-place might be converted to the purposes of the wild speculators and orthodox republicans. When the world comes to know that this banker was a “perfect model of a republican,” they will be no longer be surprised at our barbarous prac
tices to obtain the poor Indians' lands; of our conduct in Texas, in Canada, and elsewhere.
I had got thus far when your sister called me to see the sky lit up by the flames from that magnificent building called " The Pennsylvania Hall,” which had been occupied the last two or three days by a convention from the society of " Abolitionists.” The good and orthodox republicans, even of this religious city, are in favour of negro slavery; and they would not suffer free discussion on the subject of abolition to be čarried on among them. They therefore, about eight o'clock this evening, the 17th, del. berately set fire to the Hall, and guarded it until it was burnt to the ground; intimidating the public authorities (if they were not implicated in the deed) to such a degree, that no effort was made to stay the proceedings. We are truly in the midst of anarchy, and progressing fast towards scenes similar to those of the former revolution in France. The mob was headed by a captain, who marched to the siege armed with a brace of pistols in his belt, and a lighted torch in his hand. This is Isynch-law, now the supreme law of the land !
We have digressed a little, but will now return to the life of the good republican ; who, it seems, married a poor girl, Polly Lum, and Mr. Simpson says, "she was endowed with charms that easily accounted for the conquest she had made. By this union he had one child, which died in infancy; and from the fact of his having, at a late period, made application to the legislature of this State for a divorce, it is inferred that he enjoyed but little happiness or tranquillity. **** How far his temperament conduced to impair the intellect of his wife, it is not material to inquire; but it appears that her deportment authorised her confinement as a lunatic; for I find that Mary Girard was admitted an insane patient into the Pennsylvania Hospital on the 25th of August, 1790, in which receptacle she died on the 13th of September, 1815, having suffered confinement in that wantitation for twenty-five years and one month! At the request of her husband she was buried in the lawn of the hospital, and her grave marked only by a simple mound of earth; it is carefully preserved, and may still be seen. :)
“ Girard invariably caused his flowers to be taken to market and sold. He was sometimes known to invite gentlemen to take a ride to his farm during the fruit-season, when he would carefully conduct them to a spot of the strawberry-bed from which all the finest fruit had been previously gathered to send to market, when he would fling off his coat, leave the gentleman to his fruit, and join his men in the common labour of the farm. On one of these occasions he happened to return to his visitor, and, finding him in the midst of an untouched virgin bed of his finest strawberries, his anger and astonishment were ill dissembled by the apparent good nature with which he rebuked him for the liberty he had
taken, remarking, 'I gave you permission only to eat from that bed,' pointing with his finger to the exhausted spot. When conducting visitors or strangers through his grounds, he would not pluck even an apple to present to them, though his trees were bowed to the earth with the weight of the fruit.
“* *** The care of the garden at his bank was allotted to the day watchman. Girard often counted the fruit, and made the watchman responsible for the number of figs, quinces, or peaches. And, as the fruit began to ripen, the windfalls were very carefully gathered, and taken to his counting-house in the evening. I have seen this watchman with two quinces and a score of filberts, which he was to deliver on pain of losing his place.
“* * * * If ever naked and icy ambition ruled the heart of a human being, it controlled that of Stephen Girard.
« * * * * Had the charter of the old bank of the United States been renewed, as was expected by him, the profits of Mr. Girard upon this speculation would have amounted to a large fortune; but we should then, perhaps, never have seen his bank established, or his great character fully developed.
* He was a strict disciple of the political tenets of Thomas Jefferson, and always arrayed on the side of popular rights and free doctrines; himself a practical illustration of the simple and republican principles advocated by that eminent patriot and statesman, * * * He was always jealous of the power of government, and inflexibly devoted to justice and law.
It was his act saved the country, whatever may have been the speculation that governed his conduct, and impelled him to stand in the breach between the bankruptcy and the credit of the nation,-posterity will do full justice to his public services, during the eventful struggle of 1814, in extricating the republic from fiscal embarrasse ment, and ruin to her credit and resources.
In 1829 the credit of the State was shaken from the extremity to the centre, by the ill-judged, prodigal, and improvident expenditure of the public money, in prosecuting the great system of our internal improvement; when bankruptcy stared the commonwealth in the face, and embarrassed every movement of the government * Mr. Girard stepped forward and furnished from his bank a loan, of ore hundred thousand dollars.
At the period that he made this loan, the State was in a condition of bankruptcy, not dissimilar to that of the United States, when he subscribed for the five-million loan. The last cent of its credit, as well as its resources, had been expended. The public works stood still, the interest on the State loan remained unpaid, and the