I believe we do not differ on either of the points you suppose. On education certainly not; of which the proofs are my bill for the diffusion of knowledge, proposed near forty years ago, and my uniform endeavors, to this day, to get our counties divided into wards, one of the principal objects of which is, the establishment of a primary school in each. But education not being a branch of municipal government, but, like the other arts and sciences, an accident only, I did 18 not place it, with election, as a fundamental member in the structure of government.
Nor, I believe, do we differ as to the county courts. I acknowledge the value of this institution; that it is in truth our principal executive and judiciary, and that it does much for little pecuniary reward.
It is their self-appointment I wish to correct; to find some means of breaking up a cabal, when such a one gets possession of the bench. When this takes place, it becomes the most afflicting of tyrannies, because its powers are so various, and exercised on everything most immediately around us.
And how many instances have you and I known of these monopolies of county administration? I knew a county in which a particular family a numerous one got possession of the bench, and for a whole generation never admitted a man on it who was not of its clan or connexion. I know a county now of one thousand and five hundred militia, of which sixty are federalists. Its court is of thirty members, of whom twenty are federalists, every third man of the sect.
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There are large and populous districts in it without a justice, because without a federalist for appointment; the militia are as disproportionably under federal officers. And there is no authority on earth which can break up this junto, short of a general convention. The remaining one thousand four hundred and forty, free, fighting, and paying citizens, are governed by men neither of their choice or confidence, and without a hope of relief.
They are certainly excluded from the blessings of a free government for life, and indefinitely, for aught the constitution has provided. This solecism may be called anything but republican, and ought undoubtedly to be corrected. I salute you with constant friendship and respect. I thank you, Sir, for the copy you have been so good as to send me, of your late speech to the Legislature of your State, which I have read a second time with great pleasure, as I had before 19 done in the public papers.
It is replete with sound principles, and truly republican. Some articles, too, are worthy of peculiar notice.
- Das Hohelied der Liebe von Goethe - 1900 (German Edition);
The idea that institutions established for the use of the nation cannot be touched nor modified, even to make them answer their end, because of rights gratuitously supposed in those employed to manage them in trust for the public, may perhaps be a salutary provision against the abuses of a monarch, but is most absurd against the nation itself. Yet our lawyers and priests generally inculcate this doctrine, and suppose that preceding generations held the earth more freely than we do; had a right to impose laws on us, unalterable by ourselves, and that we, in like manner, can make laws and impose burthens on future generations, which they will have no right to alter; in fine, that the earth belongs to the dead and not the living.
I remark also the phenomenon of a chief magistrate recommending the reduction of his own compensation. This is a solecism of which the wisdom of our late Congress cannot be accused. I, however, place economy among the first and most important of republican virtues, and public debt as the greatest of the dangers to be feared. We see in England the consequences of the want of it, their laborers reduced to live on a penny in the shilling of their earnings, to give up bread, and resort to oatmeal and potatoes for food; and their landholders exiling themselves to live in penury and obscurity abroad, because at home the government must have all the clear profits of their land.
In fact, they see the fee simple of the island transferred to the public creditors, all its profits going to them for the interest of their debts. Our laborers and landholders must come to this also, unless they severely adhere to the economy you recommend.
I salute you with entire esteem and respect. Dear Sir ,—I have received and read with great pleasure the account you have been so kind as to send me of the interview 20 between the Emperor Alexander and Mr. Clarkson, which I now return, as it is in manuscript. It shows great condescension of character on the part of the Emperor, and power of mind also, to be able to abdicate the artificial distance between himself and other good, able men, and to converse as on equal ground.
This conversation too, taken with his late Christian league, seems to bespeak in him something like a sectarian piety; his character is undoubtedly good, and the world, I think, may expect good effects from it. I have no doubt that his firmness in favor of France, after the deposition of Bonaparte, has saved that country from evils still more severe than she is suffering, and perhaps even from partition. I sincerely wish that the history of the secret proceedings at Vienna may become known, and may reconcile to our good opinion of him his participation in the demolition of ancient and independent States, transferring them and their inhabitants as farms and stocks of cattle at a market to other owners, and even taking a part of the spoil to himself.
It is possible to suppose a case excusing this, and my partiality for his character encourages me to expect it, and to impute to others, known to have no moral scruples, the crimes of that conclave, who, under pretence of punishing the atrocities of Bonaparte, reached them themselves, and proved that with equal power they were equally flagitious. But let us turn with abhorrence from these sceptered Scelerats, and disregarding our own petty differences of opinion about men and measures, let us cling in mass to our country and to one another, and bid defiance, as we can if united, to the plundering combinations of the old world.
Present me affectionately and respectfully to Mrs. Logan, and accept the assurance of my friendship and best wishes. Dear Sir ,—In compliance with the request of your letter of the 6th inst. I was a student at college when he was already Attorney General at the bar, and a man of established years; and I had no intimacy with him until I went to the bar myself, when, I suppose, he must have been upwards of forty; from that time, and especially after I became a member of the legislature, until his death, our intimacy was cordial, and I was with him when he died.
Under these circumstances, I have committed to writing as many incidents of his life as memory enabled me to do, and to give faith to the many and excellent qualities he possessed, I have mentioned those minor ones which he did not possess; considering true history, in which all will be believed, as preferable to unqualified panegyric, in which nothing is believed.
I avoided, too, the mention of trivial incidents, which, by not distinguishing, disparage a character; but I have not been able to state early dates.
Before forwarding this paper to you, I received a letter from Peyton Randolph, his great nephew, repeating the request you had made. I therefore put the paper under a blank cover, addressed to you, unsealed, and sent it to Peyton Randolph, that he might see what dates as well as what incidents might be collected, supplementary to mine, and correct any which I had inexactly stated; circumstances may have been misremembered, but nothing, I think, of substance. This account of Peyton Randolph, therefore, you may expect to be forwarded by his nephew. You requested me when here, to communicate to you the particulars of two transactions in which I was myself an agent, to wit: the coup de main of Arnold on Richmond, and Tarleton's on Charlottesville.
I now enclose them, detailed with an exactness on which you may rely with an entire confidence. But, having an insuperable aversion to be drawn into controversy in the public papers, I must request not to be quoted either as to these or the account of Peyton Randolph. Accept the assurances of my esteem and respect. Dear Sir ,—Your favor of November 1st came but lately to my hand. It covered a prospectus of your code of health and longevity, a great and useful work, which I shall be happy to see brought to a conclusion.
Like our good old Franklin, your labors and science go all to the utilities of human life. I reciprocate congratulations with you sincerely on the restoration of peace between our two nations. And why should there have been war? If that does not justify us, then the blame is ours. But let all this be forgotten; and let both parties now count soberly the value of mutual friendship.
I am satisfied both will find that no advantage either can derive from any act of injustice whatever, will be of equal value with those flowing from friendly intercourse. Both ought to wish for peace and cordial friendship; we, because you can do us more harm than any other nation; and you, because we can do you more good than any other. Our growth is now so well established by regular enumerations through a course of forty years, and the same grounds of continuance so likely to endure for a much longer period, that, speaking in round numbers, we may safely call ourselves twenty millions in twenty years, and forty millions in forty years.
Many of the statesmen now living saw the commencement of the first term, and many now living will see the end of the second. It is not then a mere concern of posterity; a third of those now in life will see that day. Of what importance then to you must such a nation be, whether as friends or foes.
But is their friendship, dear Sir, to be obtained by the irritating policy of fomenting among us party discord, and a teasing opposition; by bribing traitors, whose sale of themselves proves they would sell their purchasers also, if their treacheries were worth a price? How much cheaper would it be, how much easier, more honorable, more magnanimous 23 and secure, to gain the government itself, by a moral, a friendly, and respectful course of conduct, which is all they would ask for a cordial and faithful return.
I know the difficulties arising from the irritation, the exasperation produced on both sides by the late war. It is great with you, as I judge from your newspapers; and greater with us, as I see myself.
The reason lies in the different degrees in which the war has acted on us. To your people it has been a matter of distant history only, a mere war in the carnatic; with us it has reached the bosom of every man, woman and child. The maritime parts have felt it in the conflagration of their houses, and towns, and desolation of their farms; the borderers in the massacres and scalpings of their husbands, wives and children; and the middle parts in their personal labors and losses in defence of both frontiers, and the revolting scenes they have there witnessed.
It is not wonderful then, if their irritations are extreme. Yet time and prudence on the part of the two governments may get over these. Manifestations of cordiality between them, friendly and kind offices made visible to the people on both sides, will mollify their feelings, and second the wishes of their functionaries to cultivate peace, and promote mutual interest.
That these dispositions have been strong on our part, in every administration from the first to the present one, that we would at any time have gone our full half-way to meet them, if a single step in advance had been taken by the other party, I can affirm of my own intimate knowledge of the fact.
During the first year of my own administration, I thought I discovered in the conduct of Mr. Addington some marks of comity towards us, and a willingness to extend to us the decencies and duties observed towards other nations. My desire to catch at this, and to improve it for the benefit of my own country, induced me, in addition to the official declarations from the Secretary of State, to write with my own hand to Mr. King, then our Minister Plenipotentiary at London, in the following words: "I avail myself of this occasion to assure you of my perfect satisfaction with the manner in which you have conducted the several matters committed to you by us; and to express 24 my hope that through your agency, we may be able to remove everything inauspicious to a cordial friendship between this country, and the one in which you are stationed; a friendship dictated by too many considerations not to be felt by the wise and the dispassionate of both nations.
It is, therefore, with the sincerest pleasure I have observed on the part of the British government various manifestations of a just and friendly disposition towards us; we wish to cultivate peace and friendship with all nations, believing that course most conducive to the welfare of our own; it is natural that these friendships should bear some proportion to the common interests of the parties. The interesting relations between Great Britain and the United States are certainly of the first order, and as such are estimated, and will be faithfully cultivated by us.
These sentiments have been communicated to you from time to time, in the official correspondence of the Secretary of State; but I have thought it might not be unacceptable to be assured that they perfectly concur with my own personal convictions, both in relation to yourself, and the country in which you are. My expectation was that Mr. King would show this letter to Mr. Addington, and that it would be received by him as an overture towards a cordial understanding between the two countries.
He left the ministry, however, and I never heard more of it, and certainly never perceived any good effect from it. I know that in the present temper, the boastful, the insolent, and the mendacious newspapers on both sides, will present serious impediments.