Sivut kuvina
PDF
ePub

emotions of human nature, and gave rise to speeches highly argumentative, eloquent and animated. The debate was protracted until the people assumed the subject. In their respective corporations, meetings were holden, the strength of parties was fully tri. ed, and it clearly appeared that the great majority were disposed to rally around the Executive. Innumerable petitions were presented to Congress praying them to make the requisite appropriations.

Unwilling to take upon themselves the conse. quences of resisting the publick will, Congress made the appropriations.

It was not in the administration of the government only, that General WASHINGTON found it necessary to exercise great caution and prudence. The convulsions of France and the political divisions of the United States, rendered it expedient that he should be circumspect in his personal friendships, and in the exercise of benevolent offices towards individual characters.

A sincere friendship had been formed between him and the Marquis La Fayette. This friendship was not disturbed by those vicissitudes in France, which occasioned the exile and foreign imprisonment of that nobleman. These rather increased the sensibility, and stengthened the attachment of the President towards the unfortunate Marquis. But on account of the state of parties in France and America, interpositions in his favour were privately made. The American Ministers at Foreign Courts were directed in an unofficial man. per to exert themselves to obtain his liberation, or

to render his confinement less oppressive. A confidential agent was sent to Berlin to solicit his liberty ; but before he reached his place of destination, the King of Prussia had surrendered the Marquis to the Emperour of Germany. Mr. Pinckney then at the Court of London, was directed to intimate the the wishes of the President to the Austrian Minister at that Court, and to solicit the influence of the British Cabinet in favour of the illustrious prisoner. Disappointed in the expected mediation of Great Britain, the President addressed the following letter immediately to the Emperour of Germany.

“ It will readily occur to your Majesty that occasions may sometimes exist, on which official considerations would constrain the Chief of a nation to be silent and passive in relation even to objects which affect his sensibility, and claim his interposition as a man. Finding myself precisely in this situation at present, I take the liberty of writing this private letter to your Majesty, being persuaded that my motives will also be my apology for it.

“In common with the people of this country, I retain a strong and cordial sense of the services rendered to them by the Marquis La Fayette ; and my friendship for him has been constant and siacere. It is natural, therefore, that I should sympathize with him and his family in their misfortunes, and endeavour to mitigate the calamities they experience, among which his present confinement is not the least distressing.

“ I forbear to enlarge on this delicate subject. Permit me only to submit to your Majesty's consid:

eration, whether his long imprisonment, and the confiscatioti of his estate, and the indigence and dis. persion of his family, and the painful anxieties inci. dent to all those circumstances, do not form an as. semblage of sufferings, which recommend him to the mediation of humanity ? Allow me, sir, on this occasion, to be its organ; and to entreat that he may be permitted to come to this country on such conditions, and under such restrictions as your Majesty may think it expedient to prescribe.

" As it is a maxim with me not to ask, what under similar, circumstances, I would not grant, your Majesty will do me the justice to believe, that this

request appears to me to correspond with those great principles of magnanimity and wisdom, whick form the basis of sound policy and durable glory."

This letter was sent to Mr. Pinckney, and was by him transmitted through the Austrian Minister to the Emperour. From this period the Marquis was treated with more mildness, and was soon after discharged from his confinement; but what influence the President's letter had on these measures, is not known.

In 1795, George Washington Motier La Fay. ette, the son of the Marquis La Fayette, made his escape from France, and arrived with his tutor at Boston. He immediately by letter communicated his situation to Gen. WASHINGTON and solicited his advice and patronage. The mother of young Fay. ette was then in France, and the President was sur. rounded by Frenchmen, the agents or friends of the administration, which had denounced the Marquis.

These men were ready to denounce every act of favour done to a man who was proscribed by the French Government. From regard to the safety of that lady, and from prudential considerations in respect to his own official character, he thought it un. advisable to invite him immediately to the seat of government, and publickly to espouse his interest. But he wrote confidentially to a friend in the neighbourhood of Boston, requesting him to visit the young gentleman, to acquaint him with the reason which rendered it ineligible that he should be invited into the President's family, and to adopt the language of the letter, to “administer all the consolation that he can derive from the most unequivocal assurances of my standing in the place, and becoming to him a father, friend, protector and supporter.

“Considering how important it is to avoid idleness and dissipation....to iniprove his mind....and to give him all the advantages which education can bestow, my opinion and my advice to him is, (if he is qualified for admission) that he should enter as a student at the University in Cambridge ; although it should be for a short time only. The expense of which, as also for every other means for his support, I will pay; and now do authorize you, my dear sir, to draw upon me accordingly. And if it be de- . sired that his tutor should accompany him to the University, any expense that he shall incur for the purpose, shall be borne by me in like manner.”

M M M

The tutor of young Fayette thought he might with more advantage pursue his studies in private, and therefore he did not enter the University.

The members of Congress, in opposition to the measures of the Administration, obtained the knowl. edge of the arrival of a son of the Marquis La Fayette in some part of America. Expecting perhaps that the President had maintained a cold and unfeeling reserve towards him, they instituted an inquiry into his situation ; and when they discovered that the President had extended towards young Fayette the assistance and the protection of a friend and a father, they dropt the subject.

This young gentleman did not remain for a length of time in the United States. Returning to France, he afterwards distinguished himself as an officer in the army of Buonaparte, but has been refused the usual promotion.

« EdellinenJatka »