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In February, 1780, a measure of Congress, with respect to the assessment of supplies from the several states, gave so much umbrage to Mr. Gerry, as the representative and guardian of Massachusetts in that body, that he left his seat, and repaired to his native province, where he remained for some time. We may abstain from any details on this head, and confine ourselves to the fact, that his course was approved and his expostulation repeated by the general assembly of Massachusetts. Though absent, he was selected by Congress as a member of one of their usual committees to visit the army. Yielding to the solicitations of personal and political friends, and satisfied at length with the measures which were adopted on the subject of his remonstrance, he resumed his station in the national councils, in 1783. When the definitive treaty was laid before them, in that year, those members who had signed the Declaration of Independence, of whom three only remained-Mr. Jefferson, Mr. Gerry, and Mr. Ellery of Rhode Island were appointed first on the committee to which it was referred. The session of Congress terminated on the 3d June, 1784. To use the language of Mr. Austin,—“the journals of its proceedings testify to the diligence and labours of the delegate from Massachusetts. He manifested the assiduity of a man of real business. In whatever department work was to be performed, he was counted upon as one of the efficient agents by whom it was to be conducted. Scarcely a committee was raised in which he was not called upon to bear an efficient part.” The biographer relates, that Mr. Gerry concurred in all the opposition which the institution of the society of the Cincinnati excited. Moved by his zeal, in part, even the General Court of Massachusetts resolved, that “the society was unjustifiable, and if not properly discountenanced, might be dangerous to the peace, liberty, and safety of the United States in general, and of Massachusetts in particular.” The alarm seems to have been taken also by John as well as Samuel Adams. Knowing what the order of the Cincinnati have been and are, we may now smile at the original panic, but still it was founded in a jealousy too natural and opportune to be harshly condemned or treated with deliberate levity. Mr. Austin handles it in a sensible and liberal manner.
Mr. Gerry was re-elected a member of Congress, for 1784. It is mentioned, that, at an age, short of forty-two years, he was the doyen or eldest member of that assembly. At this epoch of his career, the biographer closes his volume. We are informed, in the penultimate page, that, about the same date, he married the daughter of Mr. James Thompson, a lady as distinguished by her beauty and personal worth, as by her family and social connexions. Touching his matrimonial project, there is a passage of one of the letters of his friend Dana, which we are tempted to quote, in order to illustrate the high opinion which was entertained of his value in the political world :
“There are many duties incumbent upon us in this life, perfectly consistent with each other ; but unless you can settle it in your own mind, that a proper attention to the woman of your choice will not require of you a renunciation of your political career, I must urge it upon you to remain as you are ; for without Aattery, my friend, I know of no one in our state whose experience and abilities have better fitted him to assist in the deliberation and guidance of our great national concerns."
By recurring to the Biography of the Signers to the Declaration of Independence, we learn—that Mr. Gerry was a conspicuous member of the Convention who framed our present Federal system ; that, as a representative in the first Congress, under the new order of things, he took a peculiar interest in all financial questions, and was listened to on such subjects, “ with more confidence, perhaps, than any other debater;" that, about this period, he was unsuccessful as a candidate for the office of
governor of Massachusetts; that he voluntarily retired from Congress, after four years of effective service; that, unsolicited, President Adams selected him as the colleague of General Pinckney and Mr. Marshall, in that embassy to France, which may be styled an era in our political annals; that, on his return from abroad, the “Republican party” in Massachusetts, failed in an attempt to elect him Chief Magistrate of the state; that, in 1810, he was prevailed upon to allow his name to be placed on the Republican ticket for the same office, and was carried “by a most honourable and decisive majority;"—that he was re-elected the second year, but lost his station, the following one, from the violence of party spirit; that, having been recommended, in 1812, by a Republican caucus of members of Congress, held at Washington, to the people of the United States, as a proper person to fill the office of vicepresident, he was elected to the office by a majority of forty-one electoral votes; and that, from the period of the fourth of March 1813, when he was inaugurated, until his sudden death,-which took place at Washington, in November 1814, as he was on his way to the capitol,—he devoted himself unremittingly to the impartial discharge of his functions. Mr. Austin, in his preface, suggests that Mr. Gerry is believed to have been, “at the period when he presided in the senate of the nation, the only indivi. dual, in any branch of the government, who had been a member of the immortal Congress of 1776.'"
The biographer has produced, as yet, but few personal anecdotes of his subject. So far as he has gone, he has traced his public career in a manner, which, if not very attractive or piquant, is at least marked by temperance, intelligence, and gener correctness of expression and reflection. He could not avoid travelling over grounds which had been so much frequented, that scarcely any thing new or striking remained to be touch
ed. We could hardly except, from this remark, perhaps, details like the following, though we cannot doubt they will fix the attention of every American reader :
“Some insight may be gained through the accounts of the delegates, into the manners and modes of men exercising the sovereignty of the American empire, and exposed to the direct or secret offers of the agents of the British ministry.
“ The supreme power of the country was in the hands of less than forty men, living together with the simplicity of a private family, indulging themselves indeed with the comforts of gentlemen, but wholly abstaining from parade, extravagance, or luxury. The purity of their private life, was not less admirable, than the patriotism of their public conduct. There was a great want of money among them, and the very limited compensation allowed in the different departments of the civil service, was controlled or suspended from actual deficiency of means to supply it.
“ Among the letters addressed to Mr. Gerry after his return to Massachusetts, by his companions in Congress, is one from which the following extract is taken,
“Jemmy* has published a silly story about our friend - keeping Mrs.
Poor fool! He does not know that scarcely one of us can keep himself.
“"I now owe one hundred and forty-seven dollars for board and some little borrowed of my landlady, besides twenty-six borrowed for every day expenses, and perhaps sixteen more to tailors and shoemakers. How under Heaven am I to get this with provincial paper, which does not pass here for any thing at all, and is next to nothing where it was issued? You speak of my soon being at home! I own no horse, or I might ride away from these great debts, and ask charity on the road for a delegate from
to enable him to reach home. If I could get there, what's to be done? I shall be without any income, and without a hint from any man that he will employ me in any way within the compass of my abilities. Bad as my present state is, it compares very well by the side of nothing. I don't mean to complain, my good friend, for my pay is as much as my colleagues. But I wish when it comes, it would keep me alive. I suppose it is not wrong to serve here as a delegate for a living, any more than in the church or college, or a school. I am willing to bear patiently the injury the war has brought on me and my family, in common with many others, but I see no way of staying here, or living at home, and I suppose I must submit to banishment from my native province to some newer quarter, where land is easy to be had, or education may ensure employment.
• •To quit all connexion with the contest in the present stage of it, and to take horse and saddle bags, if they can be got, in the hope of making something handsome,' as the phrase goes, out of credit, does not exactly fall in with my wishes, though it may with my necessity.'
“ The agents of the country abroad were not in a much better condition.”
“ MR. JOHN ADAMS TO MR. GERRY.
“ Paris, Feb. 29th, 1780. “ MY DEAR FRIEND, “ This goes by the marquis de la Fayette, whose military ardour cannot be extinguished nor abated by the pleasures of Paris, nor the honours of Versailles, nor the profits of a great fortune, nar by the charms of a beautiful wife, nor the comforts of very fine children.
“He took leave of the court in our American uniform, and with his congressional sword, which is as fine a one as any in the world.
“ I have but a moment. Pray remember us. Give us orders to draw you know where. Without these, we shall be in a few months, if not weeks, reduced to
The printer of the tory newspaper in New-Yorkie VOL. III. ---NO. 6.
go about begging or borrowing of individuals
, and be very glad to obtain a subsistence even in this humiliating way, which however will have a worse effect upon the public than upon us, as it will make the United States ridiculous.
" JOHN ADAMS. “ Mr. Gerry."
“ The Massachusetts delegation at Philadelphia, usually lived and messed to. gether at some respectable boarding house. The club of wine, which was assessed equally and charged in their account with the state, shows a very mode. rate indulgence of the pleasures of the table. Mr. Gerry appears to have retain. ed a private servant and a pair of horses. Some others were without either of these conveniences. A ride, a walk, or a conversation party, constituted their chief means of amusement. The absorbing interest of public concerns, the con. stant vicissitude of events, the recurring novelties in political affairs, which every day presented, seem to have furnished means for relaxation from the duties of the hall.
“ The public mails formed a very inadequate source of supply for the impati. ent curiosity, which was continually excited. Expresses were interchanged be. tween Congress and the army, at the pleasure of its presiding officer, and were of course intrusted with the letters of the members. Private travellers often outrode the public mail-carriers, and anticipated their intelligence. Newspapers did not inundate the country. Thus the channels of intelligence being uncertain, the searching after the latest advices, comparing different rumours, sifting true reports from false, analyzing and determining the state of things obscured by contradictory stories, and discussing their probable operation, furnished sufficient occupation for the little time not actually devoted to the public service.”
The correspondence, which forms a considerable part of this volume, is likely to be regarded as its chief recommendation. There is much sound and characteristic wisdom, much curious narrative, much sentiment and fact illustrative of the revolutionary times and men, in the letters of Gerry himself, of Samuel Adams, John Adams, Hancock, Joseph Warren, Hawley, Francis Dana, Knox, Thomas Jefferson, Sewall, &c. In going through the book, we margined for quotation, a variety of pregnant passages; but, under the impression that the whole correspondence may be consulted with profit, we content ourselves with referring to it, as worthy of particular perusal.
ART. VIII. -SCANDINAVIAN LITERATURE.
1.-Edda Sæmunder hins fróda, Collectio Carminum veterum
Scaldorum, sæmundiana dicta, ex recensione Erasmi Rask
curavit A. A. Afzelius, Holmiæ, 1818, 8vo. 2.-Snorra-Edda ásamt Skuldu ok parmed fylgjandi ritgjör
dum, útgefin af Rasmúsi Rask, Stockhólmi, isis, Svo. 3.-R. Rask om Zendsprogets og Zendavestas Ælde og
Ægthed, Köbenhavn, 1826. 4.- Den Gamle Ægyptiske Tidsregning, efler kilderne på ny
bearbejdet af R. Rask, Köbenhavn, 1827.
The ancient history of those Scandinavian and Teutonic nations who subyerted the Roman empire, and founded the modern states of Europe upon its ruins, has always justly been regarded as an object of rational curiosity by their civilized descendants. The concise text of Tacitus has been studied and commented with intense interest ; but had the philosophical historian been as familiar with the history and manners of the Scandinavian nations, as he was with the other less remote tribes who were destined to be the conquerors of his countrymen, the researches of the learned, in modern times, would probably have been much facilitated. It is, however, in the ancient languages of the northern nations, that their history and antiquities must be explored. The formation of these languages is in itself an object of great interest to the student of human nature. The early progress of these nations, in the arts which are appropriated to civilized life, has probably been exaggerated by the fond enthusiasm of those who are devoted to these studies, but the Runic inscriptions which have escaped the ravages of time, and the destroying zeal of the missionaries, show that their language was at once rich, copious, and energetic. Situated near the polar regions, under a firmament enlightened by the reflection of bright snows, by the flashes of the aurora borealis, or by a summer sun almost perpetually above the horizon,—the face of heaven was hardly ever veiled from their eyes. Surrounded on every side with broad seas, which the necessities of subsistence and intercourse compelled them to navigate, they watched the stars, and gave to them expressive and poetical names. Like the Greeks, they used the letters of the alphabet for the purpose of expressing numbers, but in a different order ; and upon some of the Runic pillars, (of wood,) which are still preserved in the museum of the University of Copenhagen, there are traced rude calendars, sufficiently exact to satisfy their simple wants. Most of these, indeed, are of a date subsequent to the introduction of Christianity, but they are evidently copied from more ancient models. But it was in the