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stock fell to a minimum, corresponding to the low ebb of our credit, and the total vacancy of the State treasury.
“ It was at such a time that Girard sustained the public credit from total dissolution,
* Let us suppose him to have been a true son of the Church of Rome, and that he had bequeathed his fortune to the Pope, or for the embellishment of the Vatican, or St. Peter's, and what would have been our situation, even as a nation, to have been stripped of ten millions of specie, to be shipped out of the country within the short space of a year, causing general bankruptcy and impoverishment, and leaving our banks with scarcely a copper coin, to disprove the fallacy of our ficticious wealth ?
“No one will dispute his power, and right to have given what direction he pleased to his property. Had he been so inclined, he could have made it the basis of an aristocratic family, sufficiently powerful to shake the very foundation of our republic, or to corrupt and pollute society to the core."
Thus says the biographer, and at the same time compares Girard to Lord Bacon, David Hume, Gibbon, Voltaire, Helvetius, Cæsar, Napoleon, Dr. Johnson, Byron, Plato, Seneca, Franklin, Penn, and others that we have been taught to consider as the greatest men of their day. Such bombast does very well; indeed, it is highly pleasing to the Americans, who never think, compare, or look into the evidence of a question. If there be in it anything that flatters their senseless vanity, they eagerly fasten upon it, and overlook all the rest. If they were capable of thinking, how miserable they would be on learning from Mr. Simpson that their country required such a wretch as that “to stand in the breach between the bankruptcy and the credit of the nation!”—a man who forty years back had not sixpence, and came from nobody knows where, “ touching our shores as a cabin-boy :" he for many years “inhabited the meanest house in Water Street,” which you know is the meanest street in the city. This part of his history, however, is no disparagement to him ; but it is disparagement to the people, who suffered him to carry on his infernal schemes until he held the destiny of the country in the hollow of his hand. What a stupid set the rest must have been, who, prone themselves, as God knows they were, to every kind of trick and villany, should, nevertheless, let this French cabinboy come, and shuffle in a manner so as to draw to himself the whole resources of the nation, and then lend to the deluded a little of their own as a sort of nest-egg, to encourage them again to lay in the same place!
" Posterity," we are told, “will do full justice to his public services, in saving the country, in several instances, “from total dissolution." That at last, if he had given his money away to other
countries, he would have caused "general bankruptcy" in this, and would not have left even a copper coin to disprove the fallacy of our ficticious wealth. Yea, he would have shaken the very foundation of this republic. Posterity can do no justice to the great banker; no ! that could only have been done while he lived, by putting him to death with a halter. Thousands have died in that manner, the crimes of whom, all put together, would not amount to a hundredth part of those of the great banker, who, at the time of his death, had three millions and a half of loans (paper loans) out, and only about fifteen thousand dollars in specie in his bank! This assertion is corroborated by a speech of Mr. Cope in the State Convention. Mr. C. says, speaking of the advantages of credit, that "at the first meeting of the trustees of Stephen Girard's bank, of which I was one, and which meeting was held immediately after his decease, we found, to our amazement, that the whole amount of specie in his bank was but 15,673 dollars and 80 cents, one-half of which sum was in uncurrent coin." The
paper he loaned at six per cent. did not cost him near so much, each bit, as does each of the common gambler's cards ; but, by the aid of which, he black-legged the country out of about two hundred thousand dollars per year! If, however, he was guilty of what the Americans call shaving,” or, in other words, taking an illegal and enormous rate of interest from the necessitous, and we know he was capable of lessening the bushel, then indeed it is probable that, for the latter years of his life, he realized, by banking alone, half a million of dollars per annum!
Yet, when death choked him off, instead of those he had sucked being, as one would suppose, relieved, the biographer tells us that they were very much "embarrassed and distressed,” owing to the precipitation of settlement, or, in other words, of closing up the wounds too soon, after his triangular or leach-like mouth had let go.
“As soon as his death was known," says his biographer, “the ships in port displayed their colours at half-mast, and the councils of the city, being expressly convoked on the occasion, solemnly decreed him public honours, and voted him a public funeral. The people were invited to join in the last tribute of respect to their friend and benefactor. The public authorities passed resolutions to walk in his funeral procession, and every manifestation of respect was heaped upon him which it was possible for a grateful people to exhibit towards a public benefactor.
No man was ever buried with such unanimous public respect.
The public attention excited by the death of this extraor. dinary man was not, however, of that character which has undivided esteem and respect, or general love and admiration, for its basis. Per
haps no man who ever lived so much divided public opinion as Stephen Girard : and the number of those who applauded his conduct and approved his character was at least equalled by those who condemned the one and reprobated the other. The very fact that no clergyman attended his funeral, and no priest chanted over his grave, will at once account for and corroborate this fact.
* His immense wealth took captive the wild imaginations of the crowd.”
What volumes does this speak of the corrupt principles of the republicans! They are ever ready to prostitute themselves for money. Solomon says, “ Wealth maketh many friends, but the poor is separated from his neighbour;" and "every man is a friend to him that giveth gifts.” From the highest to the lowest, all solemnly decreed public honours to be paid to a body that ought, if justice and equity had been considered, to have been thrown into a hole under the gallows: because he gave
back to those he had wronged, by every device, from his wholesale banking scheme down to the lessening of the public measure, until he had reduced the people and the government to the mercy of his own talons, which he used as a cat does hers, when she suffers her prey a time, knowing that she can again pounce upon it at pleasure because he
gave back that which they might all have “sickened and died for " while he lived, and not a cent would he give to save one among thembut, because he gave that which he could no longer keep, they honoured him as if he had been an angel of light! instead of despising him as an imp of darkness, who had so reduced the people that they were afraid of offending him, being desirous of his employment, and glad to submit to any rigour and exaction of conditions that he pleased to impose.” What a picture of “ the sovereign people, and of “exalted" despotism in the banker! Surely no expert whipper-in cver had his curs under greater command. For my own part, “I would rather be a dog, and bay the moon,” than a republican, if I am to live, and be afraid of tyrants like this banker, Had it not been for his riches, he would, in a thousand instances, have been handed over to the safe keeping of the governor of the Penitentiary, and would have been put into solitary confinement with hard labour. “To say that he was a man of moral recititude,” says the biographer, “ would be to violate truth, nor could the averment be made with more propriety and truth, that he was always just;" and again,-“ It is not easy to vindicate expedients to which he resorted for profit.” A vindication, however, is attempted, and the new era favoured its success; for every just principle is now frowned down, and nothing acknowledged as worthy of consideration but expertness in thieving and swindling on a large scale.
“He was just according to his own measure of justice," and the
“ sovereigns” submitted to his rigour and exaction, while they duly appoint a sleek-looking fellow to parade the market, and to pounce upon the farmer's wife who shall be found with a lump of butter that, from some cause, frequently unknown to herself, happens to be a little too light-a circumstance deemed by the “sovereigns" to be quite sufficient to justify the taking from her the fruits of her industry, and of blasting her reputation, while this great banker was suffered to defraud indiscriminately till the hour of his death, and until he had got together ten millions of dollars !
To the honour, however, of the clergymen of Philadelphia, of all denominations, not one of them attended Girard's funeral. This conduct on the part of the clergy contrasts well with that of the mob of moneyworshippers, who degraded themselves by following the dead usurer to
Can it be my duty, as a father, to set aside the precepts and examples given to me in the days of my youth, and to take up and support such horrid principles as these? Shall I fall in with the mean and wicked spirit that now impudently stalks forth and assumes the mastery; giving toleration to everything that is base, and worshipping nothing but wealth?
The biographer says, that it is to be recorded, to the enduring credit of Girard, that he did not rob more than he did, considering the extent and duration of his business, and the tempting nature of his opportunities. “Other men,” he says, with less temptation," have robbed as much as Girard, a fact that is to be recorded to his enduring credit.” So the new era has settled the question that there is no such thing as innate honesty; and that all that can be expected of the best of us is, that we will not go out of our way to be rogues; if temptation should cross our path, that is another matter; and the new era has none of that old-fashioned and rigid inflexibility about it, to require human nature to withstand such things.
The biographer again tells us that “Girard was destitute of all the feelings peculiar to his kind, until he was touched to the quick spear of affliction. His will, however, relieved him from his load of errors; the people worship his name, and will contiue to do so until the United States shall be forgotten;" an event, it would seem, not altogether unlooked for by the biographer, for he says, that, “in all possibility, our country may, before Girard is forgotten, be peopled by a nation now unknown among us.”
When I read that “no man was ever buried with such unanimous public respect," I began to think that I held opinions on that subject peculiar to myself; for, instead of respecting, I detested the man and all his practices from the bottom of my heart, and did not suffer one of my household to add to the number of the ignorant or the vile that did what
they called “honour to his remains." But I had not proceeded many lines before I was informed by the enlightened biographer that “the number of those who applauded his conduct and approved his character was at least equalled by those who condemned the one and reprobated the other." And again, he says that Girard “departed like a faithful steward of the community, after having settled his estate to the satisfaction of all parties.” Although he has said that more than half were not satisfied, and that all the clergy were included among the dissatisfied. “The moment," he adds, “ the true character of his bequests were known, a loud shout of applause and admiration filled the public press, and flowed from every tongue, succeeded by a profound sentiment of gratitude and esteem for the man, the citizen, and the philanthropist.” * ** “Prejudice confessed she had done him injustice, and charity wept that she had ever deemed him hard of heart.”
The will was more extensively diffused than any document of a similar character, not excepting the will of George Washington."
Now, having shown you, as near as I can, from his biography, what sort of a being this Girard was, how he came here, what he did, and what he left behind him, we will proceed to show that the old adagerather vulgar, to be sure, but nevertheless true—will, in this case, be fulfilled to the very letter ; to wit—that “ What is got over the dol's back will be spent under his belly."
“ We find,” says Mr. Simpson, speaking of the will, “ that his admirable sagacity had penetrated to every expedient that was calculated to avert fraud, extravagance, and speculation."
« * * * * In all this we discern a mind aware of the great importance of the trust he was about to confide to the city, his intense solicitude for the accomplishment of his great plan of education, and his apprehension as to the possible misapplication of so vast an amount of property, by agents to be chosen by the precarious, uncertain, and perhaps incompetent members of a public corporation, too liable to be elected from factious motives, and having in general little virtue beyond the mere party adhesion of the hour, and seldom a superflux of talent for the discharge of extra and higher duties.”
What a picture the biographer here gives of his countrymen! The very best of them, you see,--the representatives—those that are selected, as it were, from the chaff,-he tells us, and tells us truly too, have but “ little virtue.”
How little did the testator know of American politicians, if he for a moment thought it possible to prevent misapplication of his property when handled by men like these! He had not been dead--nay, I question whether he was dead at all, when they began to ransack his deeds and mortgages, and to construe the meaning of the will into everything