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brains ? They make a thousand old maids, and eight or ten thousand booby boys, afraid to go to bed alone. Worse than this happens; for some eccentric minds are turned to mischief by such accounts as they receive of troops of incendiaries burning our cities : the spirit of imitation is contagious, and boys are found unaccountably bent to do as men do. When the man few from the steeple of the North Church, fifty years ago, every unlucky boy thought of nothing but flying from a sign-post.
Every horrid story in a newspaper produces a shock; but, after some time, this shock lessens. At length, such stories are so far from giving pain that they rather raise curiosity, and we desire nothing so much as the particulars of terrible tragedies. To wonder is as easy as to stare, and the most vacant mind is the most in need of such resources as cost no trouble of scrutiny or reflection; it is a sort of food for idle curiosity that is readily chewed and digested.
Now, Messrs. Printers, I pray the whole honorable craft to banish as many murders, and horrid accidents, and monstrous births, and prodigies, from their gazettes, as their readers will permit them; and, by degrees, to coax them back to contemplate life and manners, to consider common events with some common sense, and to study nature where she can be known, rather than in those of her ways where she really is, or is represented to be, inexplicable.
Boston Palladium, October, 1801.
CHARACTER OF HAMILTON. In all the different stations in which a life of active usefulness placed Hamilton, we find him not more remarkably distinguished by the extent, than by the variety and versatility, of his talents. In every place he made it apparent that no other man could have filled it so well; and in times of critical importance, in which alone he desired employment, his services were justly deemed absolutely indispensable. As Secretary of the Treasury, his was the powerful spirit that presided over the chaos.
“Confusion heard his voice, and wild Uproar
Stood ruled." — Indeed, in organizing the Federal Government, in 1789, every man of either sense or candor will allow, the difficulties seemed greater than the first-rate abilities could surmount. The event has shown that his abilities were greater than those difficulties. He surmounted them; and Washington's administration was the most wise and beneficent, the most prosperous, and ought to be the most popular, that ever was intrusted with the affairs of a nation.
Great as was Washington's merit, much of it in plan, much in execution, will of course devolve upon his minister.
As a lawyer, bis comprehensive genius reached the principles of his profession; he compassed its extent, he fathomed its profound, perhaps, even more familiarly and easily than the ordinary rules of its practice. With most men law is a trade; with him it was a science.
As a statesman, he was not more distinguished by the great extent of his views than by the caution with which he provided against impediments, and the watchfulness of his care over the right and liberty of the subject. In none of the many revenue bills which he framed, though committees reported them, is there to be found a single clause that savors of despotic power; not one that the sagest champions of law and liberty would, on that ground, hesitate to approve and adopt.
It is rare that a man who owes so much to nature descends to seek more from industry; but he seemed to depend on industry as if nature had done nothing for him. His habits of investigation were very remarkable; his mind seemed to cling to his subject till he had exhausted it. Hence the uncommon superiority of his reasoning powers,-a superiority that seemed to be augmented from every source and to be fortified by every auxiliary, -learning, taste, wit, imagination, and eloquence. These were embel. lished and enforced by his temper and manners, by his fame and his virtues. It is difficult, in the midst of such various excellence, to say in what particular the effect of his greatness was most manifest. No man more promptly discerned truth; no man more clearly displayed it: it was not merely made visible, it seemed to come bright with illumination from his lips. But, prompt and clear as he was,-fervid as Demosthenes, like Cicero full of resource,-he was not less remarkable for the copiousness and completeness of his argument, that left little for cavil, and nothing for doubt. Some men take their strongest argument as a weapon, and use no other ; but he left nothing to be inquired for more, nothing to be answered. He not only disarmed his adversaries of their pretexts and objections, but he stripped them of all excuse for having urged them; he confounded and subdued as well as convinced. He indemnified them, however, by making his discussion a complete map of his subject; so that his opponents might, indeed, feel ashamed of their mistakes, but they could not repeat them. In fact, it was no common effort that could preserve a really able antagonist from becoming his convert; for the truth which his researches so distinctly presented to the understanding of others was rendered almost irresistibly commanding and impressive, by the love and reverence which, it was ever apparent, he profoundly cherished for it in his own. While
patriotism glowed in his heart, wisdom blended in his speech her authority with her charms. * * *
The most substantial glory of a country is in its virtuous great men; its prosperity will depend on its docility to learn from their example. The name of Hamilton would have honored Greece in the age of Aristides. May Heaven, the guardian of our liberty, grant that our country may be fruitful of Hamiltons, and faithful to their glory!
In affairs that concern morals, we consider the approbation of a man's own conscience as more precious than all human rewards. But in the province of the imagination, the applause of others is of all excitements the strongest. This excitement is the cause, excellence the effect. When every thing concurs—and in Greece every thing did concur-to augment its power, a nation wakes at once from the sleep of ages. It would seem as if some Minerva, some present divinity, inhabited her own temple in Athens, and, by flashing light and working miracles, had conferred on a single people, and almost on a single age of that people, powers that are denied to other men and other times. The admiration of posterity is excited and overstrained by an effulgence of glory as much beyond our comprehension as our emulation. The Greeks seem to us a race of giants,—Titans,—the rivals yet the favorites of their gods. We think their apprehension was quicker, their native taste more refined, their prose poetry, their poetry music, their music enchantment. We imagine they had more expression in their faces, more grace in their movements, more sweetness in the tones of conversation, than the moderns. Their fabulous deities are supposed to have left their heaven to breathe the fragrance of their groves and to enjoy the beauty of their landscapes. The monuments of heroes must have excited to heroism, and the fountains which the muses had chosen for their purity, imparted inspiration. It is indeed almost impossible to contemplate the bright ages of Greece without indulging the propensity to enthusiasm.
POLITICAL FACTIONS. In democratic states there will be factions. The sovereign power, being nominally in the hands of all, will be effectually within the grasp of a few; and therefore, by the very laws of our nature, a few will combine, intrigue, lie, and fight to engross it to themselves. All history bears testimony that this attempt has never yet been disappointed.
Who will be the associates ? Certainly not the virtuous, who do not wish to control the society, but quietly to enjoy its protection. The enterprising merchant, the thriving tradesman, the careful farmer, will be engrossed by the toils of their business, and will have little time or inclination for the unprofitable and disquieting pursuits of politics. It is not the industrious, sober husbandman who will plough that barren field : it is the lazy and dissolute bankrupt, who has no other to plough. The idle, the ambitious, and the needy will band together to break the hold that law has upon them, and then to get hold of law. Faction is a Hercules, whose first labor is to strangle this lion, and then to make armour of his skin. In every democratic state, the ruling faction will have law to keep down its enemies, but it will arrogate to itself an undisputed power over law.
NOAH WEBSTER, 1758-1843.
Noau WEBSTER was born in West Hartford, Connecticut, on the 16th of October, 1758, and graduated with much reputation at Yale College in 1778. He then engaged in the instruction of a school at Hartford, studying law at the same time, and was admitted to the bar in 1781. Not being encouraged to enter immediately on the practice of his profession, in consequence of the impoverisbed state of the country, be took charge of a grammar-school at Goshen, in the State of New York. Here he compiled his celebrated Spelling-Book, which he published on his return to Hartford in 1783; and soon after appeared his English Grammar, and a compilation for reading. All these works, particularly the Spelling-Book, have had
It is a sad truth that many of our best citizens in all parts of the country live in the constant neglect of their political duties. They are eloquent upon the evils of misgovernment, and yet forget that they are accountable for a large share of the mischiefs by which they suffer in common with the whole country. There is no reason why, in a republican country, political contact should be repulsive, except in the very fact that those whose character would give respectability to our eleetions choose to stay away, and thus create the very difficulty of which they are 80 sensitive. Men may talk of ignoring politics, but in reality they cannot do it. The happiness and prosperity of the pation depend in a great degree upon the manner in which its government is administered, the laws which its corporations or legislatures enact, and the manner in which those laws are enforced. No man has any right to complain of bad rulers, municipal, state, or national, if he bas done nothing to put better ones in their place. The refusal of men to take a few hours in the year from their daily business and give them to public interests,
attending the primary meetings where candidates are nominated for office, and then by going to the polls and voting for good men, is probably what Mr. Ames refers to when he says that our countrymen "are too gordid for patriotism." (See Note 3, p. 131.) of all countries in the world, ours, where every thing dopends on the popular will, is the least adapted to men who are indifferent to politics; for if the wise and the good neglect their political duties, the country will be ruled by the ignorant and the base.
a very wide circulation, and have done much to promote uniformity of language and pronunciation in our country.
About this time he became a political writer, and his Sketches of American Policy, published in 1784; his writings in favor of the adoption of the Federal Constitution; in defence of Washington's proclamation of neutrality, and of “Jay's Treaty,"I had great influence on public opinion, and were higbly appreciated. In 1793, he established a daily paper in New York, devoted to the support of General Washington's administration,-a paper still published under the title of the Commercial Advertiser. In 1789, be was married to a daughter of William Greenleaf, Esq., of Boston.
Mr. Webster removed to New Haven in 1798, and in 1807 entered upon the great business of his life,—the compilation of The American Dictionary of the English Language. This work, which he was twenty years in completing, amidst various difficulties and discouragements, contains twelve thousand words, and between thirty and forty thousand definitions, are not contained in any preceding work. In the beauty, conciseness, and accuracy of its definitions, and in the department of etymology, it is superior to all other English dictionaries. The learning and ability with which he prosecuted the abstruse and difficult etymological investigations were generally acknowledged, both at home and abroad, and have laid the foundation of a wide-spread and enduring reputation.
The last forty years of his life Mr. Webster devoted to literary pursuits, with an ardor rarely seen in any country, and especially in this. His study was his home, his books and pen his constant companions, and his knowledge, to the last, was constantly on the increase. After a short illness, with his faculties unimpaired, in the cheerful retrospect of a life of happy and useful employment, and with the fullest consolations of religion, he expired at New Haven on the 28th of May, 1843, in the eighty-fifth year of his age.?
“It may be said that the name of Noah WEBSTER, from the wide circulation of some of his works, is known familiarly to a greater number of the inhabitants of the United States than the name, probably, of any other individual except the FATHER OF HIS Country. Whatever influence he thus acquired was used at all times to promote the best interests of his fellow-men. His books, though read by millions, have made no man worse. To multitudes they have been of lasting benefit, not only by the course of early training they have furnished, but by those precepts of wisdom and virtue with which almost every page is stored."3
1 His series of papers in support of Jay's Treaty were signed Curtits.
2 Mr. Webster's other publications were,--Effects of Slavery on Morals and industry, 1793; a collection of Papers on Political, Literary, and Moral Subjecte, 1790, republished 1843 ; A Manual of Useful Studies, 1832; a work on Pestilential Diseaser, 1790; A Treatise on the Rights of Neutral Nations in War, 1802.
“It has been said, and with much truth, that he has held communion with more minds than any other author of modern times. His learning, his assiduity, his piety, his patriotism, were the groundwork of these successful and beneficent laborg."--Goodrick'. Recollections.
3 From the “ Memoir" prefixed to his quarto Dictionary, by Rev. Chauncey A. Goodrich, D.D. It is at length announced that the great and long-promised Dictionary of that learned and veteran lexicographer, J. E. Worcester, LL.D., will be ready in October, 1859. It will be embellished with pictorial illustrations, and, as a whole, will, in fulness, in consistent orthography, and in correct orthoëpy, be in advance, doubtless, of any thing of the kind we now have.