« AnteriorContinuar »
merous letters which he was continually receiving, from
some of the most enlightened and respectable persons in • France, as well as from the general tenor of their proceed
ings in the National Assembly, Dr. Price had every reason to entertain a very different opinion from that of Mr. "Adams.'
Copy of a letter from Mr. Adams to Dr. Price.
NEW-YORK, APRIL 19, 1790.
MY DEAR FRIEND,
Accept of my best thanks for your favour of Feb. 1st. and the excellent Discourse that came with it. I love the zeal and the spirit which dictated this Discourse, and admire the general sentiments of it. From the year 1760 to this hour, the whole scope of my life has been to support such principles and propagate such sentiments. No sacrifices of myself or my family, no dangers, no labours have been too much for me in this great cause. The Revolution in France could not therefore be indifferent to me. But I have learned by awful experience, to rejoice with trembling. I know that Encyclopedists and Economists, Diderot and D'Alembert, Voltaire and Rousseau, have contributed to this great event more than Locke, Sidney, or Hoadley, and perhaps more than the American Revolution. And I own to you I know not what to make of a Republic, of thirty millions of Atheists.
The Constitution is but an experiment, and must and will be altered. I know it to be impossible that France should be long governed by it. If the Sovereignty is to reside in one; the King, the Princes of the blood, and principal Quality, will govern it at their pleasure, as long as they can agree. When they differ, they will go to war, and act over again all the Tragedies of the Valois, Bourbons, Lorrains, Guises and Colign's two hundred years ago.
The Greeks sung the praises of Harmodius and Aristogiton for restoring equal laws.- Too many Frenchmen, after the example of two many Americans, pant for equality of Persons and Property. The impracticability of this, God Almighty has decreed, and the advocates for liberty who attempt it will surely suffer for it.
I thank you, Sir, for your kind compliment.--As it has been the great aim of my life to be useful; if I had any rea:
son to think I was so, as you seem to suppose, it would make me happy. For eminence' I care nothing.–For though I pretend not to be exempt from ambition, or any other human passion, I have been convinced from my infancy, and have been confirmed every year and day of my life, that the mechanic and peasant are happier than any nobleman or magistrate or king; and that the higher a man rises, if he has any sense of duty, the more anxious he must be.
Our new Government is a new attempt to divide a Sovereignty. A fresh essay at Imperium in Imperio. It cannot therefore be expected to be very stable or very firm. It will prevent us for a time from drawing our swords upon each other; and when it will do that no longer, we must call a Convention to reform it.
The difficulty of bringing millions to agree in any measures, to act by any rule, can never be conceived by him who has not tried it. It is incredible how small is the number in any nation of those, who comprehend any system of Constitution, or Administration; and those few it is wholly impossible to unite.
I am a sincere inquirer after truth.-But I find very few who discover the same truths. The King of Prussia has found which has also fallen in my way ;
- That it is the peculiar quality of the human understanding, that example should correct no man; the blunders of the Fathers are lost to their Children, and every generation must commit its own.?
I have never sacrificed my judgment to Kings, Ministers, nor People, and I never will. When either shall see as I do, I shall rejoice in their protection, aid, and honour; but I see no prospect that either will ever think as I do, and therefore I shall never be a favourite with either. I do not desire to be.
But I sincerely wish and devoutly pray, that a hundred years of civil wars, may not be the portion of all Europe, for the want of a little attention to the true elements of the science of government.
With sentiments, moral sentiments, which are and must be eternal, I am your friend,
JOHN ADAMS. Dr. Price, Hackney.
FOR THE NORTH-AMERICAN JOURNAL.
Miscellaneous Extracts from Foreign Journals. In the Eclectick Review for September, there is an arti
a sermon preached at Leeds, on occasion of the execution of Mr. Joseph Blackburn, attorney at law, for forgery, by Richard Winter Hamilton, minister of Albion
Chapel, 4th. edition. The Reviewers are very indignant at this sermon, for which they gave various substantial reasons. The preacher is very much admired at Leeds, and his sermon had gone through four editions. The criticks make only one extract, which they say is a fair specimen of the whole, in which case this must be a very remarkable dis
They introduce their quotation by saying :-'to il·lustrate the progressive nature of sin, Mr. Hamilton says.'
• If the character throws itself into any particular attitude, it is difficult to recover the natural posture ; and, though the singularity might arise from merely an accidental cause, yet it may require some lengthened process to rectify:Through the influence of habit, feeling may strain it from its native scope, and the powers of the constitution be wrenched from their original sockets, the machinery of the mind, as it is first thrown into action, works through a roughness of wheel and stubbornness of spring, with jarring and confounding attrition ; but when the action is continued, the philosophic chimera of perpetual motion is realized and confirmed. And when habits are formed upon evil passions and principles, 'it is impossible to calculate on their mischievous extent. We have then to grapple, not merely with the strength of our depravity, but with the disadvantages of a prepared barrier and circumvallation. We have then to resist, not an enemy conscious of its injustice, but a commonwealth that relies upon precedent, and is regulated by law. Ah! the will is always volatile to sin, why should we then fan its heats and accelerate its impulse. The mind always gravitates to evil, why then should we multiply its tendency by additional weight and bias ? Who would add momentum to an avalanche from the Andes, or wing with more cruel speed the bolt that hisses from the secret place of thunder?
The publick expenditure of Great Britain for the year ending January 5, 1815, was, by the returns laid before Parliament, 117,587,9841. 10. 5. Calculating this sum at five shillings for a dollar, it will make the annual expenditure in Dollars amount to 470,351,938.
There are in England ninety-four publick libraries, eight in Scotland, and ten in Ireland, making one hundred and twelve. These include those of the Colleges, Cathedrals, and publick offices.
THE KING OF NAPLES. Ferdinand 4th is in his fifty-sixth year; in his person he is tall and straight, rather thin than corpulent, his face is very long, his hair and eyebrows white, and his countenance on the whole far from comely, but lighted up by an expression of good nature and benignity that pleases more and lasts longer than symmetry of features. His manners are easy, his conversation affable, and his whole deportment (princes will pardon me if I presume to mention it as a compliment) that of a thorough gentleman. With regard to mental endowments, nature seems to have placed him on a level with the great majority of mankind, that is, in a state of mediocrity, and without either defect or excellency ; a state the best adapted to sovereign power, because the least likely to abuse it. If one degree below it, a monarch becomes the tool of every designing knave near his person, whether valet or minister ; if only one degree above it, he becomes restless and unintentionally mischievous, like the Emperour Joseph; and if cursed with genius, he turns out like Frederick, a conquerour and a despot. But the good sense which Ferdinand derived from nature required the advantages of cultivation to develope and direct it; and of these advantages he was unfortunately deprived, in part perhaps by the early absence of his father, and in part by the negligence or design, first of his tutors, and afterwards, of his courtiers. Being raised to the throne in the eighth his age, and shortly after left by his father under the direction of a regency, he cannot be supposed to be inclined, nor they capable of compelling him, to application. The result has been as usual, a great propensity to active exercises, and an aversion to studious pursuits. The ignorance which follows from these habits is such as to extend to articles, known among us to every person above daily labour, and it not upfrequently shews itself in conversation, and be
Vol. II. No. 5. 22
trays his majesty into mistakes that sometimes startle even well- rained courtiers. Thus, mention being accidentally inade in his presence of the great power of the Turks some centuries ago, he observed, that it was no wonder, as all the world were Turks before the birth of our Saviour. Upon another occasion ,when the cruel execution of Louis 161h, then recent, happening to be the subject of conversation, one of the courtiers remarked, that it was the second crime of that kind that stained the annals of modern Enrope; the King asked with surprise, where such a deed had been perpetrated before; the courtier replying, in England. Ferdinand asked with a look of disbelief, what King of Eng. land was ever put to death by his people? The other of course answering, Charles Ist; his Majesty exclained, with some degree of warmth and indignation, No, Sir, it
is impossible, you are misinformed ; the English are too • loyal and too brave a people to be guilty of such an atro
cious a crime. He added 'depend upon it, Sir, it is a mere tale trumped up by the Jacobins at Paris to excuse their own guilt by the example of so great a nation ; it may do very well to deceive their own people, but will not I . hope, dupe us.'—Monthly Magasine.
PROPHECY ON REFORM.
When a lawyer sheds tears while he's striking a docket;