Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

considerations that loose phraseology sug- Mrs. Adams (Letters, vol. j., p. 232,) when gests! And twenty five years later we stating to her son the qualities which find him repeating the same sentiments :- would support his father through the ar

duous duties of President, places in the * I have been, forenoon and afternoon, to highest rank religion--and expressly the church to hear Parson Waddell, who gave us Christian religion. But, in conclusion, two discourses, good and wholesome for soul, we are forced to confess that the most unbody, and estate. He is a good picture of " stall- pleasant impression that remains on our ed theology," and is said to have a good estate. Last Sunday I went to the Presbyterian church mind on this subject is produced by the and beard Vír. Grant, an ingenious young gen- entire silence of the editor on what we tleman. There is something more cheerful and must call a most serious imputation, comfortable in an Episcopalian than in a Presby- which, having been publicly made, he terian church. I admire a great part of the would, we suppose, have been anxious to Divine service at Church very much. It is very contradict, if he could have honestly done humane and benevolent, and sometimes pathetic and affecting, but rarely gloomy, if ever. Their creeds I could dispense with very well, because

Mr. Adams began practising the lawthe Scriptures being before us contain the creed we suppose as an attorney-in 1758, and most certainly orthodox. But you know I never soon got into business. In 1761—the write nor talk upon divinity. . Benevolence professions of attorney and counsel being and beneficence, industry, equity and humanity, often combined in those parts--he was resignation and submission, repentance and re- admitted to the degree of barrister-atformation, are the essence of my religion. law; and in the same year he inherited by Alas! how weakly and imperfectly have I ful- the death of his father a small estate at filled the duties of my own religion !'-vol. ii., pp. 264, 265.

Braintree-' now Quincy. At this period

the British government attempted to inWe pause for a moment to deduce from troduce into Massachusetts the process of the evidence of this most respectable wit. Wrils of assistance- a kind of general ness the impolicy--the sin of neglecting search-warrant for the discovery of goods in our colonies the culture of our nation which had not paid duties.

This was al religion, and abandoning the pregnant resisted as a branch of the power claimed desert to the innate zeal of sectaries. by the mother-country of taxing the colo.

But in Mr. Adams's confession of faith nies :-the popular side was argued in Bosit cannot be denied, that an important ton by Mr. Otis, an eminent lawyer of the something is wanting :---neither the mo. day, and afterwards a still more eminent tives which led him to divine worship, nor patriot. Mr. Adams was present—but the merely moral foundations of his reli- whether engaged in the cause is not statgion,' are satisfactory to a Christian ed. He, on one occasion, calls Mr. Otis mind: but the defect, which may be only his worthy master :' it is therefore probaverbal, would by no means justify us in ble that he was employed in his office; pronouncing him an infidel; and in short, and, perhaps, attended him in court on this if Mr. Adams was not a very dishonest occasion. There can be no doubt that hypocrite, (which his whole life and cha. Otis's example had an important influence racter seem to negative,) Dr. Allen, on Adams's principles and conduct. His though in other respects his great ad- account of the effect of Otis's speech is mirer, must have done him, in this respect, remarkable : ‘Every man of an immense some degree of injustice. And this we crowded audience appeared to me to go more readily believe from one minute cir- away, as I did, ready to take arms against cumstance: it is stated that Mr. Adams writs of assistance. Then and there the formed these unhappy infidel opinions in child Independence was born !' So it proearly life, 'nor were his views af erwards bably was; but Mr. Adarns might have changed. Now we find him under date of wished it a more honourable parentage25th January, 1799, abjuring the idolatry for Mr. Otis -- by whose zeal this legal which some freethinkers professed for question was blown up into a revolutionVoltaire, 'whose materialism, &c., appear though eulogised by Mr. Adams as leavto him very superficial and nonsensical;' ing a character that will never die while ---he adds, that he was profoundly learn- | the memory of the American Revolution ed in all that jargon at twenty years of remains, whose foundation he laid with an age, but found it all useless, and soon re. energy and those masterly abilities that nounced it. This proves that in one im no other man possessed,'-was in truth, portant point at least his early views were at first, no more than a disappointed place. subsequently changed. We see also that jobber turned patriot. Dr. Allen, in the Life of Bernard, governor of Massachu-ernor Bernard is said to have offered him setts, says that

the place of advocate-general. But,' his

biographer tells us, he decidedly declin• his (Bernard's) indiscretion in appointing Mr.ed that lucrative post-he was not a man Hutchinson chief-justice, instead of giving that to be thus bribed to desert the cause of his office to Colonel Otis, of Barnstaple, to whom it had been promised by a former (not the prea what way Mr. Adams was or could have

country! We are not, however, told in ceding] governor, proved very injurious to the government cause. In consequence of this ap- been, at that period, enlisted in the cause pointment he lost the influence of Colonel Ouis, of his country; and Governor Hutchinand, by yielding himself to Mr. Hutchinson, son, who succeeded Bernard, tells (in his drew upon him ihe hostility of James Otis the valuable ‘History of Massachusetts,' vol. son, a man of great talents, who soon became iii., p. 328) a different, and, we think, more the leader on the popular side.'

probable, story :And it is further stated by the same authority,

• Mr. John Adams was a distant relation and that

intimaie acquaintance of Mr. Samuel Adams.

After his education at the college he applied 10 • Otis in his resentment had said that he would the study of the law, a short time before the set the province in flames, even though he perish- troubles began. He is said to have been at a ed by the fire.'

loss which side to take. Mr. Sewell, who was

with the Government, would have persuaded This, however, is the course of all revolu- him to be on the same side, and promised him tions; individual ambition and resent- to desire Governor Bernard io make him a justment are the incendiaries, but they can ice of the peace. The Governor took time to only be successful when there is already a consider of it, and having, as Mr. Adams concollection of inflammable matter. If the

ceived, not taken proper notice of him, or given social condition of America had not pre, er deliberated, and ever after joined in opposle

him offence on some former occasion, he no long. pared her for independence, the personal tion. As the troubles increased he increased in resentments of Mr. Otis could have had knowledge, and made a figure not only in his but little permanent effect.

own profession, but as a patriot, and was geneIn 1764, while practising the law with rally esteemed as a person endowed with more some success at Braintree, Mr. Adams knowledge than his kinsman (Samuel Adams), married Abigail Smith, the daughter, neither his business nor his health would admit

and equally zealous in the cause of liberty; but grand-daughter, and great grand-daughter of that constant application to it which distinof puritan ministers; and next year pub- guished Samuel Adams from all the rest of the ljshed · An Essay on Canon and Feudal province. In general, John Adams may be said Law. We were, at first, a little surprised to be of stronger resentment upon any real or at a young village-lawyer in Massachu- supposed personal neglect or injury ihan the setts publishing an Essay on Canon and other; but in their resentment against such as Feudal Law-we wondered where he opposed them in the cause in which they were should have found books, experience, or His ambition was without bounds, and he has

engaged, it is difficult to say which exceeded. opportunities for such studies; but our acknowledged to his acquaintance that he could surprise was lessened when we were told not look with complacency upon any man who that the object of this legal essay was was in possession of more wealth, more power, to show the conspiracy between Church or more knowledge than himself.' and State for oppressing the people. We The severity with which, in these lethave not seen that work, which we sup- ters, Mr. Adams generally treats his adpose can only be curious as an incident in versaries, and the dry and niggardly style the personal history of President Adams. in which he mentions his friends and as.

In 1765 he removed to the larger sphere sociates--even Washington himselfof Boston, where his legal practice is said strongly corroborate--and indeed we do to have been extensive. All this time the not find that Mr. Adams's friends deny the dissensions, of which the affair of the justice of-Governor Hutchinson's esti. Writs of assistance was the first symptom, mate of his character: but, after all, canwere growing more serious, and assuming dour must confess that it is only by such gradually a national character; though qualities as boldness, emulation, and amthey still wore the aspect of opposition to bition---which enemies will call presumpthe local governors, who endeavoured to tion, envy, and selfishness-that men can meet their difficulties by the old mode of distinguish themselves in revolutionary buying of the patriots; amongst whom, struggles; and we really believe that Mr. it seems, Mr. Adams now began to distin- Adams, thongh he himself pleads guilty guish himself so much, that in 1768 Gor. to 'egotism'--had as little of those pole erful but unamiable stimulants as any man | by the Governor. It is not unlikely that of his day: excepting always the great some personal disappointment may have and blameless Washington.

originally helped to sharpen Mr. Adams's But whether this offer of office was made patriotism ; but it was quite natural that an and declined, or not, it is certain that Mr. eminent lawyer, with a good deal of confiAdams had now attained very considera- dence--no small share of ambition--edu. ble eminence in his profession; and we cated in the puritan and republican ten. find him soon after taking a forward part ets which then prevailed in New England in local politics. In 1769 he was one of under a surface of monarchical forms-and a committee of three appointed by the in- with, above all, a high and affectionate habitants of Boston to draw up instruc. confidence in the capabilities of his native tions to their representatives in the pro- land : it was natural, we say, that such a vincial legislature, to resist what were styl- man should in the first instance approve ed British encroachments. From this it resistance to what most of his class conwould seem that, if he at any time hesi- sidered unconstitutional aggression, and tated between the parties, he had now de. be eventually carried along the stream of cidedly joined the Opposition, and ranked opposition into the assertion of Independas one of its leaders. In 1770 an affray ence. In 1774 his opinions and efforts occurring between the King's troops and emerge into full light: we then find him a Boston mob, in which some of the riot- one of the delegates of the province of ers were killed, a Captain Preston and Massachusetts to the first Congress, and-some of his soldiers were keenly prose- from the earliest moment that we are accuted for murder. On this occasion,' says quainted with his views--already contemGovernor Hutchinson, 'Captain Preston plating and preparing---though not withhad been well advised [perhaps by the Go- out some misgivings and regret (vol. i., p. vernor himself ] to retain two gentlemen 62)---the great result of national emanciof the law, who were strongly attached to pation. He and his colleagues, of whom the cause of liberty, and to stick at no the most remarkable was Samuel Adams, reasonable fees for that purpose; and this appear to have been far in advance of the measure proved of great service to him.' rest even of the second Congress on the (ib, p. 328). The two gentlemen thus re- road to Independence. zained, and highly fee'd, were Mr. Adams and Josiah Quincy, a relative of Mrs. Ad- * I have found this Congress like the last. ams. Their advocacy was able and suc

When we first came together, I found a strong cessful, and the verdict of acquittal which jealousy of us from New England, and the Masthey obtained for the officer was then--- of designs of independency; an American repub

sachusetts in particular. Suspicions entertained and is still —quoted in America as a proof lic; Presbyterian principles, and twenty other of the moderate and conciliatory spirit of things. Our sentiments were heard in Conthe province; praise which it certainly gress with great caution, and seemed to make does not merit: for, though Captain Pres- but little impression ; but the longer we sat, the ton was acquitted, some of his men were more clearly they saw the necessity of pushing most unjustly, and in mere compliance day we sit the more we are convinced that the

vigorous measures. It has been so now. Every with popular violence, found guilty of designs against us are hostile and sanguinary, manslaughter, and punished accordingly. and that nothing but fortitude, vigour, and per

If Mr. Adams had been before wavering, severance can save us.'--vol. i., p. 45. this victory would probably have drawn him closer to the party he had so essen- This tone was then so peculiar to Mr. tially served. But it did not do so, and Adams and his New England colleagues, his political differences with the Govern- that, about this time, Congress voted, in ment grew wider. Mrs. Adams tells us spite of his earnest opposition, an address that in 1772 he had like to have been to the King calenlated to open a door for chosen into the Council, but if he had, reconciliation. A letter from Adams to Hutchinson acknowledged that he would his friend Mr. Warren, President of the have negatived him.' (Let., vol. i., p. 30.) provincial Congress of Massachusetts, and This was the occasion on which Mrs. another to Mrs. Adams, expressing his Adams uttered the wish—so strange in a disapprobation of this address and his pious lady well read in the Scriptures, wishes for vigorous measures of resistthat the said Governor might be gibbeted ance, having been intercepted, they were like. Mordecai--meaning, we presume, like published by our Government as a proof liuman. Next year, 1773, he was actual. that the conciliatory address was deceply chosen by the Assembly, and negatived tive, and that Mr. Adams's letters betrayed

18

VOL. I.Xix

[ocr errors]

the real intention of the Congress :-a mis- And yet certainly the situation of his take, it now appears; for the Congress native province, when it began its resistwas still so very averse to the idea of ance, was not such as to require any honiivlependence, that Mr. Adams, already est man to enter into any dangerous maloosed upon with distrust, became, on the chinations for its liberation; and a wise publication of these letters, so odious and mau might have doubted, as Mr. Adams unpopular, that his society was shunned. himself did at first, whether it was likely To be sure, it was not altogether his hos- to gain much by the change. He saystility to the mother-country that led to this disgrace: he had in those letters se- • New England has, in many respects, the verely censured and ridiculed some of his advantage of every other colony in America, colleagues who happened to take the mod- and, indeed, of every other part of the world erate course; and, probably, the amour that I know anything of. propre of both parties sheltered itself un. less mixed with Scotch, frish, Dutch, French,

*1. The people are purer English blood; der an affected amour de la patrie. But Danish, Swedish, &c., ihan any other; and dein a short time, events having taken a scended from Englishmen, too, who left Europe turn favourable to Mr. Adams's view, the in purer times than the present, and less taint: personalities of his letters were generally ed with corruption than those they left behind forgotten, and he more than resumed his them. former station in public opinion.

“2. The institutions in New England for the The following answer to a question of support of religion, morals, and decency exceed his wife's as to Dr. Franklin, will, besides any other ; obliging every parish to have a min

ister, and every person to go to meeting, &c. giving his opinion of the Doctor, show

3. The public institutions in New England that even after the battle of Bunker's Hill for the education of youth, supporting colleges the prospect of total independence was at the public expense, and obliging towns to not popular :

maintain grammar-schools, are not equalled,

and never were, in any part of the world. Dr. Franklin has been very constant in his 4. The division of our territory, that is, our attendance on Congress from the beginning. His counties, into townships; empowering towns conduct has been composed and grave, and, in to assemble, choose officers, make laws, mend the opinion of many gentlemen, very reserved. roads, and twenty other things, gives every man He has not assumed anything, nor affected to an opportunity of showing and improving that take the lead; but has seemed to choose that education which he received at college or at the Congress should pursue their own principles school, and makes knowledge and dexterity at and sentiments, and adopt their own plans. Yet public business common. he has not been backward; has been very use- 65. Our law for the distribution of intestates ful on many occasions, and discovered a dis- occasions a frequent division of landed property, position entirely American. He does not hesi- and prevents monopolies of land.'—vol. i., pr. tate at our boldest measures, but rather seems 74, 75. to think us too irresolute and backward. He thinks us at present in an odd state, neither in

This was certainly a state of things that peace nor war, neither dependent nor indepen- ought not to have provoked rebellion, and dent; but he thinks that we shall soon assume a character more decisive. He thinks that we

we must say that an accurate examination have the power of preserving ourselves; and of the early stages of the dispute-long that, even if we should be driven to the disagree before they attracted European noticeable necessity of assuming a total independency has convinced us that the patriots were and set up a separate state, we can maintain it. The people of England have thought, that the place hunters, and that the original dis

Mr. in Franklin; and I suppose their scribblers will

satisfaction had no reasonable foundaattribute the temper and proceedings of Con

tion. gress to him; bui there cannot be a greater mis

But with all this, we must admit that fake. He has had but little share further than the prospect of independence was an at, id co-operate and to assist. He is however a tractive, and as it has turned out a rational great and good man. I wish his colleagues from speculation ; and Mr. Adams pursued it this city were all like him.'--vol. i., pp. 53, 54.

with mingled activity and prudence, and

deserves the large share of the national sonally active in the preliminary troubles gratitude which he enjoyed till his Presithan we were aware of, for we find him dency, and which, we believe, is now writing to his wife, 10th October, 1775— pretty generally restored to his memory.

Mr. Allams not only hastened the decla. Pray bundle up every paper not already hid, ration of Independence, but he contributed and conceal them in impenetrable darkness. No to the adoption of the existing form of body knows what may occur.'-vol. ii., p. 633. federal government, by the publication in

1776 of his Thoughts on Government.' to be general of the American army;' For most internal purposes, we believe but it appears that, when a strong cabal the federative system the very best that was formed in Congress against Washcould have been adopted; but Mr. Adams ington, Adams—if he did not join the ca-occupied, we suppose, with what was bal, which his grandson but faintly denies more immediately urgent, some sort of -looked at least with a jealous and somedomestic government---does not in this what detracting eye on the great General. work allude to, and probably did not con- We find in a letter of the 26th October, sider the effect of, this federal system in 1777, this aigre-dour passage :-the foreign relations of a country--and • Congress will appoint a thanksgiving (for we should not be surprised if it should some successes in the North in which Washhappen, and indeed rather shall be surpris- ington was not concerned ;) and one cause of it ed if it does not happen, that this federal ought to be, that the glory of turning the tide system, as at present constituted, shall of arms is not immediately due to the Combe found wholly inadequate to, and incon- troops. If it had been, idolatry and adulation

mander-in-chief (Washington,] nor to southern sistent with, the maintenance of a na- would have been unbounded ; so excessive as tional government and character. It is a to endanger our liberties, for what I know. great and interesting problem, and, as we Now, we can allow a certain citizen to be wise, have often said, the system has in America virtuous, and good without thinking him a every possible advantage from local and deity or a saviour.'-- vol. ii., p. 14. temporary circumstances, and yet we The editor endeavours to palliate this strongly doubt its stability in its present 'jealousy' by saying that form-but more of this by and by. • it was solely the result of the study of history,

Mr. Adams took, as might be expected, and of the examples of abuse of power by mili. a very active part in all the business of tary chieftains, but partook of no hostility to the Congress: during his service in that body man, as will more fully appear by reference to he was member of ninety, and chairman the letter in this collection of the 25th February of twenty-five, committees, but seems to

preceding.' have been more especially employed as

This apology does not satisfy our chairman of the committee for military minds: it might very well happen in times business, called the Board of War. He of 'cabal that an opinion expressed on fancied, indeed, that he had himself a

the 25th of February should be no proof taste for military life-which, he says,

of what a caballer might feel on the 20th broke out so early as 1757, when he long: October ; but, on referring back to that ed ardently to be a soldier; and in 1775, letter, it not only does not ‘fully appear' when Congress began to appoint officers, that Mr. Adams could have no personal and Colonel Washington appeared in tha: jealousy of Washington eight months assembly in his uniform, Adams's ardour later, but it does not even prove that Mr. blazes up, and he writes to his wife, 'Oh Adams had no such jealousy even at that that I were a soldier!—I will be-I am read- time. The expressions are :ing military books!' Again when he • Many persons are extremely dissatisfied accompanies Generals Washington, Lee, with numbers of the general officers of the and Schuyler a little way out of Philadel highest rank. I don't mean the commander

in-chief, his character is justly very high ; but phia on their journey to join the army, he Schuyler, Putnam, Spencer, Heath, are thought is much excited by the pride and pomp by very few to be capable of the great commands of war;' but adds, in a sudden ebullition they hold.'- vol. i., pp. 192, 193. of that amour propre which seems to have This only says that Washington stands been so strong in him

justly high with many persons who are * I, poor creature, worn out with scribbling extremely dissatisfied with the other genfor my bread and my liberty, low in spirits and erals; and is certainly not a full appearweak in health, must leave others to wear the laurels which I have sown ; others to eat the Washington-particularly as we find that

of any great friendship towards bread which I have earned ; a common case.'vol. i., pp. 47, 48.

only two days before the date of this let

ter of the 25th February, 1777, Mr. Adams It must have been something of this made a speech in Congress exactly in the feeling which—at one period at least - spirit of the subsequent letter of the 26th cooled in a very remarkable way his ad- of October:miration of Washington. At first Wash

• I have been distressed to see some of our ington is the modest and virtuous, the members disposed 10 idolize an image which amiable, generous, and brave George their own hands have molten. I speak of the Washington, Esquire, chosen by Congress superstitious veneration which is paid io Gen

ance

« AnteriorContinuar »