« PreviousContinue »
FOR THE PORT FOLO. WASHINGONS LETTERS, No. %.
The following letter appears to be addressed to the governor of one of the colonies, but the envelope is lost. There is something peculiarly interesting in the contemplation of Washington at the age of twenty, writing with the zeal which we find here, about the property, dignity, and lands of the British monarch. It shows tha the mind of this great and good man was deeply impressed with those principles, which ornament the individual and support the state, In his youth we behold himn exerting his “ heroic spirit” in defence of the sovereign to whom he owed obedience: but when the obstinate ignorance of the ministers of this same “ master" dissolved the ties of allegiance by harsh, and illegal acts, we see him with the same promptitude, girding on his sword, to defend his own rights. Although he ardently loved peace, and was bountifully gifted with the “ sweetest phrase"* of it, yet he hesitated not an instant between the summons of his country, and the “ still small” and delightful whispers of rural retirement and domestic quict. He was not one of those contemptible negatives in political arithmetic, who have nothing to do with public affairs, and leave them to the care of wiser heads.” He thought with Cato, that it is the duty of every man, to take one side or the other in all important questions. As a subject, he knew it was his duty to defend the rights of the government by which he was protected; as a man, he felt that it was his right to scan the principles by which ţhat government was guided, and his privilege to resist every unlawful encroachment. In making his election, at that drcadful conjuncture, which appalled the craven hearts of many, he had every thing to lose, and nothing, as an individual, to gain.Wealth did not allure him, and the seductive temptations of power had no influence in his deliberations. He had the wisdom to comprehend the extent of the usurpation; and, happily for his country, hc had also the ability to conduct, and the fortune to achicve the great work of our deliverance. He mounted the fearful eminence with a firm and deliberate step; and even his foes, with some few disgraceful and conspicuous cxceptions, were compelied to say,
However heaven or fortune cast his lot,
• Richard II.
With a perseverance which no sinister event could divert; an energy which no force could withstand; a sagacity which no stratagem could elude, he accomplished the mighty labour. He gave us freedom, stability, and happiness, by devising and establishing the best form of government, considered with respect to its theory and practical operation, that ever was conceived. In return for all this, he intrigued for no power, he claimed no reward: for what has man to give in recompense for such services? He retired to Mount Vernon, and, amidst its peaceful shades, he composed an address to his fellow-citizens, in which our best interests are wisely scanned, and our best principles are powerfully inculcated. Of this political legacy, we may use the language of Dr. Young in speaking of Johnson's Rasselas," it is a mass of sense.” He spins no webs of technical sophistry; he bewilders by no mazy labyrinth of precedents; he dazzles with no glittering figures of ambitious eloquence; he does not distort or disguise: but in the plain language of common sense, aided by the potent auxilliaries of long experience and unquestionable rectitude, he illustrates our political relations, and indicates our political march. The consecrated altar of Apollo supplied a holy spark to rekindle the fires of the Greeks which had been extinguished by the infatuated followers of the Persian monarch. So when our horizon shall be dimmed by ignorance, if ever the time should arrive, when difficulties perplex and dangers dismay, let us unfold this scroll of wisdom, and ponder, with mingled emoLions of affection and respect, upon the lessons of Washington,
If there exist a man design'd by Heaven,
WILLS CREEK, 24th April, 1754. May it please your Excellency,
It is with the greatest concern / acquaint you, that Mr. Ward, ensign in captain Trent's company, was obliged to surrender his small fortress in the Forks of Monongahela, at the suinmons of captain Contreceur, commander of the French forces, who fell down from Venango with a fleet of 360 canoes and batteaux, conveying upwards of one thousand men, eighteen pieces of artillery, and large stores of provisions and other necessaries Mr. Ward have ing but an inconsiderable number of men (not exceeding 30,) and no cannon to make a proper defence, was forced to deliver up the fort on the 17th instant. They suffered him to draw out his men, arms, and working-tools, and gave leave that he might retreat to the inhabitants with them. I have heard of your excelJency's great zeal for his majesty's service, and for all our interests on the present occasion; therefore I am persuaded you will take proper notice of the Indian's moving speech, and think their unshaken fidelity worthy your consideration.
I have arrived thus far with a detachment of 159 men; col. Fry with the remainder of the regiment and artillery is daily expected. In the mean time we shall advance slowly across the mountains, making the roads as we march, fit for the carriage of the great guns, &c. and are designed to proceed as far as the mouth of Red Stone Creek, which enters Monongahela about 37 miles above the fort (the French have taken), from whence we have water carriage down the river: there is a store-house built by the Ohio company at the place, which for the present, may serve as a receptacle for our ammunition and pro• visions.
Besides the French herein mentioned, we have credible information, that another party are coming up Ohio. We also have intelligence that 600 of the Chippoway, and Ottoway Indians are marching down Scido Creek to join them.
i ought first to have begged pardon of your excellency for this liberty of writing, as I am not happy enough to be ranked among those of your acquain. tance. It was the glowing zeal I owe my country that influenced me to im. part these advices, and my inclination prompted me to do it to you, as I know you are solicitous for the public weal and warm in this interesting cause that should rouse from the lethargy we have fallen into, the heroic spirit of every free. born Englishman, to assert the rights and privileges of our king (if we don't consult the benefit of ourselves) and resque from the invasions of a usurping enemy, our master's property, his dignity, and lands.
I hope, sir, you will excuse the freeness of my expressions, they are the pure sentiments of the breast of him who is with all imaginable regard and due respect, Your Excellency's most obedient and very humble servant.
GEORGE WASHINGTON. N. B. I herewith have inclosed for your Excellency's perusal a copy of the sammons from the Frencli officer, and also the Indian's speech which was de. livered to, and brought by Mr. Ward.
FOR THE PORT FOLIO.-FRANKLINIANA.
A gentleman who has had access to the library of the United States, recently purchased from Mr. Jefferson, has transmitted to us the following ertracts from an anonymous pamphlet, with the marginal notes of Dr. Franklin, in his own writing. Neither the title nor the date of the pamphlet is given, but the subjeet and the time are sufficiently evident.
Text. “We are not in general sensible of the benefits we derive from society, till we happen to be deprived of them; but by reflection we may easily conceive the happiness we enjoy beyond what is attainable by solitary savages." Page 2.
Note by DR. FRANKLIN. The difference is not so great as may be imagined. Happiness is more generally and equally diffused among savages than in our civilized societies. No European, who has once tasted savage life, can afterwards bear to live in our societies. The care and labour of providing for artificial and fashionable wants the sight of so many rich, wallowing in superfluous plenty, whereby so many are kept poor and distressed by want the insolence of office—the snares and plagues of law, and the restraints of custom, all contribute to disgust them, with what we call, civil society.
Text. « If the law of nations allows men to treat a conquered country as they please, the right of original property, the creation of a colony, and the supplying it with people, must give a much better title to jurisdiction and superiority.” Page 30.
Note. The British nation had no original property in the country of America. It was purchased by the first colonists of the natives, the only owners. The colonies were not created by Britain, but by the colonists themselves. The people that went cost the nation nothing to send them ther: they went at their own expense, N. S. and Georgia excepted, and to these were sent many people who died or went away.
TEXT. “Their division into provinces at present makes every colony a little state of itself.” Page 44.
Note. There you hit it; and they will always (probably) continue so.
Text. “ Whilst they depend on Great Britain, they are sure of being presently informed of any danger that threatens them.” Page 45.
Note. While connected with Great Britain, they are of being engaged in all her wars and quarrels.
Text. “ It is true a time will come, when the North Americ can colonies shall exceed Great Britain in strength.”
Note. Then don't make enemies of them, if you are wise.
Text. “It is also likely that, in time, America will make her own manufactures."
Note. You are hastening that time by your own folly.
Text. “ And perhaps a separation take place by consent, when the national debt is discharged.”
NOTE. He seems to imagine the colonies concerned in the national debt;—a notion quite new.
ТЕХт. “ The further the colonists extend themselves from the sea and great rivers, the dearer our manufactures must come to them, on account of land carriage."
Note. The further they extend themselves, the less likely to be too populous, so as to engage in manufactures: but no distance they can go from the sea, will add much by carriage to the price of British goods. The country is full of rivers and lakes; which this writer seems not to know.
Text. “For a province, formed entirely from subjects of the state, to pretend to equality, seems a sort of civil mutiny. It is to be hoped that our colonists have run into these excesses, rather from error in judgment than from a design to withdraw their allegiance.”
Note. It is great impudence or folly in a man to suppose that, because he is an Englishman, every American owes him allegiance. If every Englishman is not a sovereign over every American, neither can he communicate such sovereignty to another, by choosing him parliament man.