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touch their hats. And Gouverneur Morris gives us a capital idea of the state of feeling when he says that a looker-on, who took no part in affairs, felt like a sober man at a dinner when the rest of the company were drunk. Civil war was often talked of, and the threat of secession, which has become the rhetorical staple of the South, produced solely for exportation to the North, to be used there in manufacturing pro-slavery votes out of the timidity of men of large means and little courage or perspicacity, was then freely made by both divisions of the Union. Had we been of French or Spanish descent, there would have been barricades, coup-d'états, pronunciamentos; but the English race know better how to treat the body-politic. They never apply the knife except for the most desperate operations. But where hard words were so plenty, blows could not fail. Duels were frequent, cudgellings not uncommon,--although as yet the Senate-Chamber had not been selected as the fittest scene for the use of the bludgeon. It is true that molasses-and-water was the beverage allowed by Congress in those simple times, and that charged to station
What terrible fellows our ancestors were for calling names,-particularly the gentlemen of the press! If they had been natives of the Island of Frozen Sounds, along the shore of which Pantagruel and Panurge coasted, they would have stood up to their chins in scurrilous epithets. The comical sketch of their rhetoric in
Salmagundi" is literally true:-" Every day have these slangwhangers made furious attacks on each other and upon their respective adherents, discharging their heavy artillery, consisting of large sheets loaded with scoundrel, villain, liar, rascal, numskull, nincompoop, dunderhead, wiseacre, blockhead, jackass." As single words were not always explosive enough to make a report equal to their feelings, they had recourse to compounds;-"pert and prating popinjay," "hackneyed gutscraper," "maggot of corruption," "toad on a dung-heap," "snivelling sophisticat
ing hound," are a few of the chain-shot which strike our eyes in turning over the yellow faded files. They are all quiet now, those eager, snarling editors of fifty years since, and mostly forgotten. Even the ink which records their spiteful abuse is fading away;—
"Duane no more the halter dreads,
No gallows Cheetham's dreams invades,
Emerson's saying, that involuntarily we read history as superior beings, is never so true as when we read history before it has been worked up for the public, in the raw material of letters, pamphlets, and newspapers. Feverish paragraphs, which once excited the enthusiasm of one party and the fiercest opposition of the other, lie before us as dead and as unmeaning as an Egyptian mummy. The passion which once gave them life is gone. The objects which the writers considered all-important we perceive to have been of no real significance even in their day. We read on with a good-natured pity, akin to the feeling which the gods of Epicurus might be supposed to experience when they looked down upon foolish mortals,- and when we shut the book, go out into our own world to fret, fume, and wrangle over things equally transitory and frivolous.
When it became evident that the Administration party ran the risk of being beaten in the election of 1800, their trumpeters sounded the wildest notes of alarm. 66 People! how long will you remain blind? Awake! be up and doing! If Mr. Jefferson is elected, the equal representation of the small States in the Senate will be destroyed, the funding system swept away, the navy abolished, all commerce and foreign trade prohibited, and the fruits of the soil left to rot on the hands of the farmer. The taxes will all fall on the landed interest, all the churches will be overturned, none but Frenchmen employed by government, and the monstrous system of liberty and equality, with all its horrid consequences, as experienced in France and St. Do
mingo, will inevitably be introduced." Thus they shouted, and no doubt many of the shouters sincerely believed it all. Nevertheless, and in spite of these alarums, the Revolution of '99, as Mr. Jefferson liked to call it, took place without bloodshed, and in 1801 that gentleman mounted the throne.
After this struggle was over, the Federalists, some from conviction and some from disgust at being beaten, gave up the country as lost. Worthy New-Englanders, like Cabot, Fisher Ames, and Wolcott, had no longer hope. They sank into the position of mere grumblers, with one leading principle, admiration of England, and a willingness to submit to any insults which England in her haughtiness might please to inflict. "We are sure," says the "Boston Democrat," "that George III. would find more desperately devoted subjects in New England than in any part of his dominions." The Democrats, of course, clung to their motto, "Whatever is in France is right," and even accepted the arbitrary measures of Bonaparte at home as a mere change of system, and abroad as forced upon him by British pirates. It is curious to read the high Federalist papers in the first days of their sorrow. In their contradictory fault-finding sulkiness, they give some color of truth to Mr. Jefferson's accusation, that the Federal leaders were seeking to establish a monarchy,—a charge well known to be unfounded, as Washington said at the time. "What is the use of celebrating the Fourth of July?" they asked. "Freedom is a stale, narcotic topic. The Declaration of Independence a useless, if not an odious libel upon a friendly nation connected with us by the silken band of amity." Fenno, in his paper, said the Declaration was “a placard of rebellion, a feeble production, in which the spirit of rebellion prevailed over the love of order." Dennie, in the "Portfolio," anticipating Mr. Choate, called it 66 an incoherent accumulation of indigestible and impracticable political dogmas, dangerous to the peace of the world, and seditious in its local tendency, and, as a
composition, equally at variance with the laws of construction and the laws of regular government." The Federalist opinion of the principles of the Administration party was avowed with equal frankness in their papers. "A democracy is the most absurd constitution, productive of anarchy and mischief, which must always happen when the government of a nation depends upon the caprice of the ignorant, harebrained vulgar. All the miseries of men for a long series of years grew out of that infamous mode of polity, a democracy; which is to be reckoned to be only the corruption and degeneracy of a republic, and not to be ranked among the legitimate forms of government. If it be not a legitimate government, we owe it no allegiance. He is a blind man who does not see this truth; he is a base Iman who will not assert it. Democratic power is tyranny, in the principle, the beginning, the progress, and the end. It is on its trial here, and the issue will be civil war, desolation, and anarchy." These and other foolish excerpts were kept before their readers by the "Aurora" and "Boston Chronicle," leading Democratic organs, and served to sweeten their triumph and to seal the fate of the unlucky Federalists.
The difference between the tone of these extracts and that of our present journalists, when they touch upon the abstract principles of government, may indicate to us the firm hold which the Democratic theory has taken of our people. As that conquering party marched onward, the opposition was forced to follow after, and to encamp upon the ground their powerful enemy left behind him. To-day when we see gentlemen who consider themselves Conservatives in the ranks of the Democrats, we may suppose that the tour of the political circle is nearly completed.
A momentary lull had followed the storm of the election, when Mr. Jefferson boldly threw down another "bone for the Federalists to gnaw." He wrote to Thomas Paine, inviting him to America, and offering him a passage home in a
national vessel. find us," he added, "returned to sentiments worthy of former times; in these it will be your glory to have steadily labored, and with as much effect as any man living. That you may live long, to continue your useful labors and reap the reward in the thankfulness of nations, is my sincere prayer. Accept the assurance of my high esteem and affectionate attachment." Mr. Jefferson went even farther. He openly announced his intention of giving Paine an office, if there were one in his gift suitable for him. Now, although Paine had been absent for many years, he had not been forgotten by the Americans. The echo of the noise he made in England reached our shores; and English echoes were more attentively listened to then even than at present. His "Rights of Man" had been much read in this country. Indeed, it was asserted, and upon pretty good authority, that Jefferson himself, when Secretary of State, had advised and encouraged the publication of an American edition as an antidote to the "Davila of Mr. Adams. Even the "Age of Reason" had obtained an immense circulation from the great reputation of the author. It reminded the Rev. Mr. Goodrich, and other Orthodox New-Englanders, of Milton's description of Death,"Black it stood as night,
"You will, in general,
Fierce as ten furies, terrible as hell." Yet numbers of people, nothing frightened, would buy and read. "No work," Dr. Francis tells us, "had a demand for readers comparable to that of Paine. The Age of Reason,' on its first appearance in New York, was printed as an orthodox book by orthodox publishers,-doubtless deceived," the charitable Doctor adds, " by the vast renown which the author of Common Sense' had obtained, and by the prospects of sale." Paine's position in the French Convention, his long imprisonment, poverty, slovenly habits, and fondness for drink, were all well known and well talked over. William Cobbett, for one, never lost an opportunity of dressing up Paine
as a filthy monster. He wrote his life for the sake of doing it more thoroughly The following extract, probably much relished at the time, will give some idea of the tone and temper of this perform
"How Tom gets a living now, or what brothel he inhabits, I know not, nor does it much signify. He has done all the mischief he can do in this world; and whether his carcass is at last to be suffered to rot on the earth, or to be dried in the air, is of very little consequence. Whenever or wherever he breathes his last, he will excite neither sorrow nor compassion; no friendly hand will close his eyes, not a groan will be uttered, not a tear will be shed. Like Judas, he will be remembered by posterity; men will learn to express all that is base, malignant, treacherous, unnatural, and blasphemous by the single monosyllable of Paine."
Cobbett also wrote an ante-mortem epitaph, a fit inscription for the life he had composed. It ends thus:
"He is crammed in a dungeon and preaches up Reason;
Blasphemes the Almighty, lives in filth like a hog;
Is abandoned in death, and interred like a dog."
This brutal passage does not exaggerate the opinion of Paine's character held by the good people of America. He was an object of horror to them,- a rebel against government and against God,— a type of Jacobinism, a type of Infidelity, and, with what seemed to them, no doubt, a beautiful consistency, a type of all that was abandoned and vile. Thomas Paine, a Massachusetts poet of cidevant celebrity, petitioned the General Court for permission to call himself Robert Treat Paine, on the ground that he had no Christian name. In New Eng land, Christianity and Federalism were looked upon as intimately connected, and Democracy as a wicked thing, born of Tom Paine, Tom Jefferson, and the Father of Lies. In this Trinity of Evil, Thomas Paine stood first.
During the struggle for the Presidency, Mr. Jefferson had been accused, from every Federal stump, of the two unpardonable sins to Yankee minds, ly, that his notes could be bought for five shillings in the pound, and that he did not believe in Revelation. Since his election, he had been daily reminded of his religious short-comings by keen newspaper attacks. He knew that he strengthened the hands of his enemies by inviting home the Arch-Infidel. We are and were then a religious people, in spite of the declaration in Mr. Adams's Tripolitan treaty, that the government of the United States was not in any sense founded on the Christian religion,” and Paine could find few admirers in any class. Mr. Jefferson, too, was well aware that the old man was broken, that the fire had gone out of him, and that his presence in the United States could be of no use whatever to the party. But he thought that Paine's services in the Revolution had earned for him an asylum, and their old acquaintance made him hasten to offer it. We think that the invitation to Paine was one of the manliest acts of Jefferson's life.
When the matter became public, there arose a long, loud cry of abuse, which rang from Massachusetts Bay to Washington City. Anarchy, confusion, and the downfall of not only church, but state, were declared to be the unavoidable consequences of Paine's return to our shores, -that impious apostate! that Benedict Arnold, once useful, and then a traitor! The United States Gazette" had ten leaders on the text of Tom Paine and Jefferson, "whose love of liberty was neither more rational, generous, or social, than that of the wolf or the tiger." The "New England Palladium" fairly shrieked :-"What! invite to the United States that lying, drunkèn, brutal infidel, who rejoices in the opportunity of basking and wallowing in the confusion, devastation, bloodshed, rapine, and murder, in which his soul delights?" Why, even the French called him the English orang-outang! He was exposed with a monkey and a bear in a cage in Paris.
In 1792, he was forbidden to haunt the White-Bear Tavern in London. He subsisted for eight years on the charity of booksellers, who employed him in the morning to correct proofs; in the afternoon he was too drunk. He lodged in a cellar. He helped the poissardes to clean fish and open oysters. He lived in misery, filth, and contempt. Not until Livingston went to France did any respectable American call upon him. Livingston's attentions to him not only astonished, but disgusted the First Consul, and gave him a very mean opinion of Livingston's talents. The critical Mr. Dennie caused his " Portfolio" to give forth this solemn strain: "If, during the present season of national abasement, infatuation, folly, and vice, any portent could surprise, sober men would be utterly confounded by an article current in all our newspapers, that the loathsome Thomas Paine, a drunken atheist and the scavenger of faction, is invited to return in a national ship to America by the first magistrate of a free people. A measure so enormously preposterous we cannot yet believe has been adopted, and it would demand firmer nerves than those possessed by Mr. Jefferson to hazard such an insult to the moral sense of the nation. If that rebel rascal should come to preach from his Bible to our populace, it would be time for every honest and insulted man of dignity to flee to some Zoar as from another Sodom, to shake off the very dust of his feet and to abandon America." "He is coming," wrote Noah Webster, ("the mender and murderer of English,") "to publish in America the third part of the Age of Reason."" And the epigrammatists, such as they were, tried their goose-quills on the subject:
"He passed his forces in review,
Smith, Cheetham, Jones, Duane: 'Dull rascals, these will never do,' Quoth he,-I'll send for Paine.' "Then from his darling den in France To tempt the wretch to come, He made Tom's brain with flattery dance And took the tax from rum."
The Administration editors held their tongues; the religious side of the question was too strong for them.
Paine was unable to accept the passage offered him in the frigate, and returned in a merchant-vessel in the autumn of the next year (1802). The excitement had not subsided. Early in October, the Philadelphia Gazette" announced that "a kind of tumultuous sensation was produced in the city yesterday evening in consequence of the arrival of the ship Benjamin Franklin from Havre. It was believed, for a few moments, that the carcass of Thomas Paine was on board, and several individuals were seen disgracing themselves by an impious joy. It was finally understood that Paine had missed his passage by this vessel and was to sail in a ship to New York. Under the New York news-head we perceive a vessel from Havre reported. Infidels! hail the arrival of your high-priest!"
A few days later, the infidel Tom Paine, otherwise Mr. Paine, arrived safely at Baltimore and proceeded thence to Washington. The journalists gave tongue at once: "Fire! Age of Reason! Look at his nose! He drank all the brandy in Baltimore in nine days! What a dirty fellow! Invited home by a brother Tom! Let Jefferson and his blasphemous crony dangle from the same gallows." The booksellers, quietly mindful of the opportunity, got out an edition of his works in two volumes.
As soon as he was fairly on shore, Paine took sides with his host, and commenced writing "Letters to the People of the United States." He announced in them that he was a genuine Federalist,— not one of that disguised faction which had arisen in America, and which, losing sight of first principles, had begun to contemplate the people as hereditary property: No wonder that the author of the Rights of Man was attacked by this
faction: His arrival was to them like the sight of water to canine madness: He served them for a standing dish of abuse: The leaders during the Reign of Terror in France and during the late despotism
in America were the same men in character; for how else was it to be accounted for that he was persecuted by both at the same time? In every part of the Union this faction was in the agonies of death, and, in proportion as its fate approached, gnashed its teeth and struggled: He should lose half his greatness when they ceased to lie. Mr. Adams, as the late chief of this faction, met with harsh and derisive treatment in these letters, and did not attempt to conceal his irritation in his own later correspondence.
Paine's few defenders tried to back him with weak paragraphs in the daily papers: His great talents, his generous services, "in spite of a few indiscreet writings about religion," should make him an object of interest and respect. The "Aurora's" own correspondent sent to his paper a favorable sketch of Paine's appearance, manner, and conversation: He was 66 proud to find a man whom he had admired free from the contaminations of debauchery and the habits of inebriety which have been so grossly and falsely sent abroad concerning him." But the enemy had ten guns to Paine's one, and served them with all the fierceness of party-hate. A shower of abusive missiles rattled incessantly about his ears. However thick-skinned a man may be,' and protected over all by the as triplex of self-sufficiency, he cannot escape being wounded by furious and incessant attacks. Paine felt keenly the neglect of his former friends, who avoided him, when they did not openly cut him. Mr. Jefferson, it is true, asked him to dinners, and invited the British minister to meet him; at least, the indignant Anglo-Federal editors said so. Perhaps he offered him an office. If he did, Paine refused it, preferring "to serve as a disinterested volunteer." Poor old man! his services were no longer of much use to anybody. The current of American events had swept past him, leaving him stranded, a broken fragment of a revolutionary wreck.
When the nine days of wonder had expired in Washington, and the inhabi