Page images

writers of a country)—can be no more adequate to the fulfilment of the important office of reviewing the state of American literature, than is the feeble cry of a being, such as man, efficient to still the roar of the Atlantic surge, when lashed into a tempest by the fury of the winds.

A review, therefore, should be a separate work-standing alone, upon the basis of its own merit:-and a magazine, and register might, very reasonably, and very beneficially contain a selection of essays, and verses, and history, both past and present, and, whatever else, might tend to combine improvement with delight, to those readers, who shrink from the labour of long-continued thinking, and whose brain cannot bear the burden of profound, and comprehensive reflection.

Let the public make an effectual demand for such literary productions, and they will be instantly forth-coming ;-for literature, like every other species of human commodity, must always be proportioned to the demand for it in the intellectual market ;--that is, in other words, the quantity of genius, and of learning, which is publicly produced, in order to adorn, to strengthen, and to dignify any given country, must be always directly proportioned to the quantity of sense, taste, virtue, refinement, understanding and civilization, existing among the people of that country.



DEBATES on the Non-importation act-(Continued from

Vol. 2.--No. 3.- page 201.)

N discussing the question of policy on our part, in a pros-

pective war with Great Britain, Mr. Randolph glanced over a great variety of interesting topics. It was not possible, however, on such an occasion, to do equal justice to them all; nor, are we to expect that any one of them would be either closely examined, or profoundly investigated. It was sufficient, that the prominent features of each subject should be presented to the house; and that, while the mask was torn from the hideous face which it covered, and the veil of deception thrown aside, the country might, at once, have a full view of its dangers, as well as of the decisive measures, necessary to be taken, in order to meet them. As the most important remarks are scattered over various parts of the speeches of this enlightened statesman, and as the same subjects are frequently recurred to, after having been apparently dismissed, we shall endeavour to reduce them to order—and, as much as possible, give to each individual subject, all that was said upon it, before we pass on to another.

Before measures were adopted, calculated to provoke violent resentment, Mr. Randolph thought, that the objects of contention should be thoroughly investigated—and here, Mr. R. had to tread on tender ground. The speculative temper of the country ; the strong interest of commercial cities; and the adventurous spirits of Merchants, who had long been accustomed to gain by the very means which he combated, would all rise in firm phalanx against him. Yet, nothing appalled, by these various antagonists, he began his attack with an anecdote, at once humorous, and defying; sarcastic and . indignant. “I am forcibly struck on this occasion by the




“ recollection of a remark made by one of the ablest, if not “ honestest, ministers, that England ever produced. I mean “ Sir Robert Walpole, who said, that the country gentlemen,

poor meek souls ! came up, every year, to be sheared ; that “ they laid mute and patient, whilst their fleeces were taking

but that if he touched a single bristle of the commerucial interest, the whole stye was in an uproar. It was, indeed, e shearing the hog,—great cry, and little wool !"

Mr. Randolph proceeded to ask what was the question in dispute ? Was it the carrying trade? And if so, what part of it? Was it the fair, the honest, the useful trade, which consisted in carrying our own productions to foreign markets, and bringing back their productions in return? To all these questions Mr. R. gave a decided negative. He contended, that it was not the honest carrying trade, which had become the object of dispute, but that trade which covers enemy's property, and carries the products of the West-Indies to the mother country; that mere fungus of the present European war, and which would vanish with the first return of No man, he imagined, could be so credulous as to believe, that this country possessed sufficient capital, not only, for its own proper trade, but also large enough for the purpose of transmitting to the respective parent states, the vast and wealthy products of the French, Spanish, and Dutch colonies. It was beyond the belief of any rational being.

Mr. Randolph thought it was well worth an inquiry, to what extent the revenue was concerned in this trade. most our whole revenue,” said he, “is derived from com

merce, that is, from domestic consumption of imports from 4 abroad. How much comes from the carrying trade? Your

statements say, 800,000 Dollars. But, if our whole consup“tion were imported in foreign bottoms, the impost would “exceed its present amount, by eleven or twelve hundred * thousand Dollars."-But did he wish to gain this increase at the expence of navigation? Far from it, nor did he hesitate to allow, that the carrying trade was valuable, but he requested the house duly to consider, what branch of it, it was, on account of which, the navigation and commerce, the agriculture, and even the constitution were to be jeopardized

[ocr errors]

“ Look at this trade, which is to be guarded at every risk, " and the men, who follow it. Do they carry your products “abroad, and bring back goods for home consumption ? No;

they plunge their hands into your pockets for drawbackDuring this very session, they threatened to plunder the treasury of millions, by a bill, happily arrested on its passage.

If our fair trade is not protected, how comes it, that "it has grown with a rapidity before unheard of in any age, “unknown in any nation? That growth has been nourished “ by protecting duties, and fostered by our own neutral po“sition. We are the real friends of your navigation. It “has grown beneath the shade of discriminating duties, “flourished in the sunshine of the neutral character-with the “ first blight of maritime war, it dies.”

In the course of the debate Mr. R. had been charged with fixing a stigma upon the merchants ; nor, can it be denied, that many

of his remarks are certainly severe. When, however, he enters into a defence of himself against this charge, he proves, that he only exposes those aberrations from strict integrity, and open, honourable dealing, so common in all communities, and not, that he charges the want of uprightness to the class of citizens alluded to, exclusively. That numbers of men, calling themselves merchants, have combined to lower that high character, is too obvious to be contradicted. But these reptiles belong not to one nation only. “They are,” (to use Mr. R's words) “made up of pseudo Americans, with Anglo, and Gallo Americans, and American French and English, who amass fortunes by trading under the neutral character, and setting it up to auction for the highest bidder. Such men, he adds, are generally without connexions and character; yet, as this is, in some degree, unknown in the countries where they trade, the character and property of the honorable merchant is valued with that of the mushroom adventurer.

In every country should the character of the merchant stand on the highest ground; because, except the agriculturalist, none is so useful to the community at large ; indeed, to him it is that even the agriculturalist owes much of his wealth ; and the land-holder, the increased value of his estate. By opening

sources for the reception of produce and particularly of grain, he raises the price of the article, as well as enhances the value of the land, which produces it: and hence it is, that in proportion as the foreign demand for produce increases, or diminishes, in that same proportion, do the agriculturalists, and land-owners, rise to wealth, or descend into the vale of penury

and want. High, however, as the mercantile character always should be, and, in many instances is, yet it must be allowed, that the allurements of gain, and the prospects of a rapid fortune, are frequently found too strong for resistance. When interest leads the way, the conscience is easily satisfied, nor does the mind, always, stop to inquire about abstract notions of right and wrong, when gold presents its ever fascinating hue. Yet, are these any excuse for the merchant, who claims a title to the dignified character of his calling? Surely not. It is, then, for him to set the ennobling example of unblenched integrity, and of mercantile honour. To point out to the young adventurer this great truth, that the undeviating path of uprightness, is the only permanent one, that leads to riches. When merchants of fortune and of influence, hold up so bright a pattern, the ambitious, and even the wavering, are at once determined to follow them; while the pitiful, mere moneymaking paltroons, as well as the practised, insidious villain, is abashed, and left to scowl and hide his head.

When after the decisive battle of Zama, Scipio had dictated terms of peace to Carthage-one of which was, that two hundred talents should be paid to Rome; at the execution of which article several members of the Senate were in tears ;Hannibal was observed to smile. On being interrogated, respecting this insult offered to the public distress; he answered: 166 that a smile of scorn for those who felt not the loss of their country, until it affected their private interests, was an expression of sorrow for Carthage.”

In debates, on questions, involving consequences of paramount importance to the country, nothing can be more disingenuous, or reflect greater discredit on the senator, than his evading the allusion to any facts, merely because they run counter to those views on the subject which he has embraced ;

« PreviousContinue »