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with a much better grace in the papers than when spoken, and some that might have been intended, but never were spoken.* On the other hand, the Federalists find their speeches mutilated, deranged, often wholly omitted, and made to say things never intended nor uttered. It is a fact, which the more candid Democrats do not hesitate to acknowledge, that much the largest portion of the ability of this House is on the Federal side. Were there printers in this city, as there are in Philadelphia, the public mnight derive much information, and form correct opinions, from the debates. But as the case is, little can be done. Little is to be hoped for, unless something different from the present mode of proceeding can be adopted. Some very respectable characters have proposed, when these alarming subjects are brought forward, there should be perfect silence on the Federal side. Let the Democrats go the lengths they wish, without throwing obstacles in their way, any further than giving a negative vote; and let a protest, clearly stating the reasons which influenced the conduct of the Federalists, and which will place this subject in the clearest and most impressive points of light, be signed by all the Federal party. Though it would not be admitted on the journals of the House, it may be spread in sufficient numbers among the people, and have a better effect than the newspaper publication of debates. Consultations are daily held, but no particular measures are yet adopted. Your friend and brother,
WASHINGTON, Jan. 4, 1802. DR. TORREY. Dear Sir:
You very justly remark that the address is intended to secure popularity. But this is not all. The popular parts conceal from the unthinking and unsus
* WASHington, Feb. 10), 1802. There is a secret about the newspaper reports which you ought to know. Many things are told there which never happen. Speeches are printed as made which never were made. Many speeches actually made never appear. According to the temper, humor, and party of the editor, debates are mutilated, garbled, and perverted. – Dr. Mitchell's Letters, 1001-1813 (in llarper's Jonthly, April, 1879).
picious insidious strokes at the vitals of the Constitution, as well as measures hostile to the existence of the government.
You would be ready to doubt my veracity, were I to recite to you the debasing methods which are pursued here and in this part of the country to gain the applause of the multitude. The low popularity which is so assiduously courted must be of short duration, without some solid ground for its support, and ought not to excite any serious apprehension, were it not for the destructive measures which in the meantime are to be accomplished.
Since the commencement of the session very little business has been done. Much good humor has apparently prevailed, and, contrary to the policy intended to have been pursued, mere necessity has compelled the friends of the government to take the lead and the management of business very much upon themselves. But the ball is now beginning to open. Some trying questions have been agitated. This day the Judiciary business has been broached in both Houses. What form it will assume, and what turns and twists it may undergo, it is impossible to say. The plan, in its full extent, is unknown, and will be varied, whatever it is, as strength and other circumstances may dictate. It is, in itself, a subject of the most serious and interesting nature, and the more so, because the people generally, and a large proportion of the well informed, will not see the fatal consequences. The Judiciary is not a subordinate but a co-ordinate part of the government; it is the great barrier between the government and the people; it is the bulwark of our liberties, the vital principle of our Constitution, and it is, by that instrument, as carefully and fully secured as, perhaps, it was possible to do on paper. If the intentions of the party are effected, of which I think there is no doubt, the Constitution is gone. As the Senate, very unfortunately, is more subservient to the views of the Executive than the House, it is to go through its first ordeal in that branch.
The situation of our country is, my friend, at this moment, extremely critical and alarming. May kind Heaven interpose, as in time past, in the hour of extremity. With regard to internal taxes, it is impossible to form any opinion of what will be done. Gallatin has expressed himself to some of the Federalists rather doubtful about the expediency of abolishing them, but with what views is very uncertain. There are two objects in view one is to attack the funded debt, and the other, a direct tax upon the people; but they find much caution and contrivance necessary to accomplish them. At this session nothing more than some preparatory steps is expected.
The tales that are told about a cheap government and the retrenching of expenses are perfectly idle. I believe, upon evidence which appears to me conclusive, that greater sums of public money have been unnecessarily and foolishly lavished away since the 4th of March than during the preceding twelve years' administration. Much has been said about a short session, but it is the opinion of the best judges, that the business which ought to be done this session would not be completed, if we were to sit till June. It is, however, my present opinion, that on principles of popularity the adjournment will take place the last of February or the first of March, whatever may be the state of business.
Many of our friends at the eastward have hoped that much information would be given to the people from the Federal debates in Congress. Undoubtedly, the first characters for real ability and talent in public speaking are on their side. Though their number is so small, they abound with good speakers. A very great proportion of their best speakers have not yet opened their mouths on the floor.
On the other side, there are only two who deserve the name of speakers. Eustis, of Boston, has been forward, but extremely awkward and blundering. Bacon is often up, chopping his logic, but never without exciting ridicule. Notwithstanding, the hopes of our friends must be disappointed, for the man who takes down the debates is a flaming Democrat, and the speeches of the Federalists are either omitted or strangely mutilated, while those on the other side are corrected, amended, and in some instances nearly fabricated. Under the new order of things, there are no Levees, but the members are invited to dine with the President in rotation, and what is strange (if any thing done here can be strange), only Federal
ists or only Democrats are invited at the same time. The number in a day is generally eight, and when the Federalists are invited, there is one of the heads of Departments, which makes nine. Mr. Read and myself were honored with a pretty early invitation. I believe about a fortnight ago. Generals Shepard and Wadsworth * (of Mass.), General Morris (of Vt.), Mr. Morris and Van Rensselaer † (N. Y.), and Mr. Hill (N. Carolina), were our company. All decided Federalists. We enjoyed ourselves very well; were social, and handsomely received and entertained. On New Year's day, a number of the Federalists were determined to keep up the old custom, though contrary to what was intended, of waiting on the President, with the compliments of the season. We went at eleven, were tolerably received, and treated with cake and wine. We had, likewise, the honor of viewing the mammoth cheese. It had, a little before, on this morning, been presented with all the parade of Democratic etiquette. The President invited us to “Go into the mammoth room to see the mammoth cheese.” Last Sunday, Leland, the cheesemonger, a poor, ignorant, illiterate, clownish preacher (who was the conductor of this monument of human weakness and folly to the place of its destination), was introduced as the preacher to both Houses of Congress, and a great number of gentlemen and ladies from I know not where. The President, contrary to all former practice, made one of the audience. Such a performance I never heard before, and I hope never shall again. The text was, “And behold a greater than Solomon is here.” The design of the preacher was principally to apply the allusion, not to the person intended in the text, but to him who was then present. Such a farrago, bawled with stunning voice, horrid tone, frightful grimaces, and extravagant gestures, I believe, was never heard by any decent auditory before. Shame or laughter appeared in every countenance.
* Major-General Peleg Wadsworth. born, Duxbury, Mass., May 6, 1748; died at Hiram, Maine, November 18, 1829; Harvard University, 1769. Joined the Revolutionary Army as Captain of minute men at Roxbury; Aide to General Ward, and afterward Acijutant-General for Massachusetts. Was Brigadier-General of Militia in 1777. In 1792, he was elected State Senator; was member of Cougress in 1792-1806. His son, Lieutenant llenry Wadsworth, U. S. N., distinguished in the Tripolitan war, died off Tripoli, September 4, 1804, aged 19, by the explosion of a fire ship.- Drake's Dict. Am. Bing.
† William Van Rensselaer was born in 1763; was a member of Congress from New York from 1801 to 1811, after which he retired to private life, and died in New York City, June 18, 1845.
Such an outrage upon religion, the Sabbath, and common decency, was extremely painful to every sober, thinking person present. But it answered the much-wished for purpose of the Democrats, to see religion exhibited in the most ridiculous manner. On Friday last, Messrs. Hillhouse, Davenport, J. C. Smith, Mattoon, Perkins, Tallmadge, and Goddard, and myself, made a visit to Mount Vernon, to pay our respects to Mrs. Washington. We were received in the most polite and cordial manner, and handsomely entertained. She appeared in good health, but like one who has sustained a loss that will always remain fresh in her mind. She spoke of the General with great affection, and observed that, though she had many favors and mercies, for which she desired to bless God, she felt as if she was become a stranger among her friends, and could welcome the time when she should be called to follow her deceased friend.
My time has lately been so occupied, that it has not been in my power to write so frequently to my friends as I have wished. Some matters before Congress, respecting navigation, have rendered it necessary to write repeatedly to commercial gentlemen for particular information. But, particularly, much time has been employed, and must still be, as one of the committee for investigating the expenditures, appropriations, and accounts of the heads of Departments, foreign ministers, and other public officers, since the establishment of the present government. An intention to stigmatize the character of Mr. Pickering has occasioned the appointment of this committee. You will see, by the debates, that Mr. Nicholson originated the motion.
The business has taken a turn very different from what was intended, or was even apprehended. The motion, instead of being confined to Mr. Pickering, has been extended to all the heads of Departments, and, as far as the investigation has gone, there is ground to believe defaults will be found, and