« VorigeDoorgaan »
I have given you a very imperfect account of the proceedings of the last week. The dignified manner in which the business has progressed has received, from the most respectable spectators, the highest encomium. The Senate adjourned on every day (having met an hour sooner than usual) as early as the committee of the whole was formed, and attended on the floor of the House, the Vice-President remarkably attentive. Great numbers of ladies, and people-collected I know not from where—have attended, and seemed to be daily increasing. The very aspect of the Hall—the solemn silence, the marked attention of every countenance, the order observed in the debate-has exhibited a scene which you can better conceive than I can describe. It has been said by some, if men of high importance, charged with treason, and standing at the bar of the House, were on trial for their lives, the solemnity could hardly have been greater.
Many warm Democrats, out of doors, have expressed their astonishment at the light which Federalists have thrown upon this subject, and reprobated the measure. I could only wish that the whole people of America could have witnessed the scenes, and heard the debates of the last week.
I must mention two or three of the most admirable points in Mr. Bayard's speech, though I shall only spoil them by the attempt. I can not give you a single expression as he delivered it. After noticing the abuses of Giles in numerous instances, and scourging him with whips and scorpions, he told him, for all these he would forgive him; but one thing he never would forgive—and then attacked him for his abuse of Washington, in a manner which filled the House with admiration. Another thing-in a bold, but handsome manner, he charged the whole of this business on the President, declared he was the author, he was the abettor, he was the support of this repeal. It was in his power, and in his alone, to arrest it, and prevent its passing; he could stop it by a word's speaking. If he did not (though he meant not to threaten), he would feel his chair of state tremble under him, he would be
hurled from it before the expiration of his four years. This part was inimitable. In the course of his arguments on the unconstitutionality, he at length pointed out, in the most forcible and impressive manner, the absolute impossibility of a government being supported without an independent Judiciary. Here, he declared to his opponents, he meant to throw the gauntlet. He challenged, he dared them to take the fieldmanfully to come forward and meet him on this ground. I can give you no idea of the effect of this part of his speech. When Randolph rose, he began with a pompous declaration, that, though he was a stripling (which, by the way, is true, in every possible sense of the word), he rose to meet the giantthat Goliath on the opposite side—he accepted the challenge; he would only take a stone and a sling, and would level him to the ground. It was afterward shrewdly observed by some of his own party, he took his sling, but he had no stone to put in it. Many of his party were severely mortified. Both Bayard and Randolph have greatly disappointed their respective friends. Randolph has sunk far below, and Bayard has towered far above the expectations of his most sanguine admirers, It is impossible that Bayard's speech should be given entire to the public. No stenographer could have taken ithe had not written—it is not possible for him now to write. Much of it (as regards the public) must be as water spilt on the ground, and we fear-greatly fear—the best parts of it will be lost. Much of the ornament you can not have. He is an extraordinary man. In cautious, sound judgment, he does not excel; but, as a parliamentary speaker, perfectly at his ease-s0 careless, that he does not appear to have the least exercise of mind, and hardly to know, himself, that he is speaking, I doubt whether his equal can be found. And though his speaking seems to be as easy and as involuntary as his breathing, yet in the sublime, in pathos, in solemnity, as occasion requires, he arrests, he astonishes his auditory, but seems to know nothing about it himself. His friends have begged him immediately to commit all he can recollect to writing. But a speech of six hours and a half, with very few previous notes, much of it depending on the impressions and
t one time for his abi se with it die mind
alone, to an ? Word's open )
0, he would
It has given opportunity to take into view men and measures—to exhibit to the public some of the outlines of the new theory, and to state consequences which otherwise would not have been done. ... Mr. Bayard followed Giles, and astonished his friends, much exceeding their most sanguine expectations. He had prepared himself for the question itself, but, in following Giles between two or three hours, depended on present thought. He has since assured me that he had only from eight in the morning until Congress sat to look over the minutes he had made of Giles' speech the day before.
Mr. Rutledge is a very handsome speaker (and a very handsome man). He never appears so well as when he is speaking. He exhibited a display of parliamentary eloquence far more natural, easy, and graceful than I had ever heardmany fine strokes. In the sublime, and in pathos, he excelled. His speech was admirably calculated for a popular assembly, and yet discovered much classic knowledge and classic taste.
Mr. Griswold has shone upon this occasion with distinguished luster. He outdid himself. In plain, conclusive argument, perfectly to the point, he has given a demonstration of the violation of the Constitution in this bill which will forever remain unanswerable. He brings the conviction to the mind in a manner that is irresistible, and has surpassed all that have gone before him. Indeed, the magnitude of this question grows upon
discussion, and the new theory which is begun is every day more and more discovered. The outlines of the plan are to get rid of a written Constitution, which will remove the restraints of fixed principles, increase the powers of the Legislature—let that body become omnipotent, let public opinion be the political constitution, let the elections be the check upon the encroachments of power-then our political freedom and happiness will be secured. You may be assured that the repeal of the Judiciary is only the means to obtain this end.. There is no doubt in
every measure comes from the Cabinet prepared to be acted upon, and that, at this mo
my mind that
ment, the Executive as completely rules both houses of Congress as Bonaparte rules the people of France. Alas! my dear sir, what are we coming to, if the good sense and wisdom of the people can not be waked up and brought into action. Our hazard appears to me to lie, more than in any thing else, in the imperceptible progress we are making to a state of ruin, or, at least, to some kind of revolution.
It gives us pleasure to find the adulatory address has failed in the Massachusetts Legislature. When the debates in Congress on this question get into the hands of the people, I do flatter myself they will make impressions on the people of the New England States. The Federalists from the Southward, who act with us, place all their hopes on the good sense and information of the Eastern States, but they are much afraid they will withdraw from the Union. Some of them are actually making arrangements to dispose of their interests and move to New England, and all of them are talking about it.
How long the debate will continue is uncertain, but not a vote will be altered. The numbers, pro and con, if all the members now here are in the Hall, will be 61 yeas
and 35 nays. One member on our sile is absent, and another (General Shepard) is sick. It is not impossible the question in committee may be taken to-day, but I believe there are two or three more on their side who intend to speak. Mr. Nicholson began a speech yesterday in favor of the bill, which he will conclude to-day. Iitherto, the debates have been conducted with a dignity and solemnity that has done honor to the greatness of the occasion, but it is growing less so, and I expect the scene to be totally changed.
Your affectionate parent,
[From Ex-President John Adams.]
QUINCY, May 10, 1802. Dear Sir :-I duly received your favor of the 17th of April. The letter from Dr. Mitchell, and the Project of the Society at New York of a National Academy, shall be laid before the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, at their next meeting.
the Government for the second twelve years, by undoing all that was done in the first twelve years, would restore us to the situation we were in at first, humiliating as that was, we shall be more fortunate than I fear we shall be. Those who live to that period will see and feel what I hope will be out of the sight of
Your very respectful and obedient servant, DR. CUTLER.