Gazette of the United-States. (New-York [N.Y.]) 1789-1793, May 13, 1789, Image 1

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    Ho. I' V -
u Tht imagination of man is naturally fuhlime, de-
Hghttdwith whatever is remote and extraordinary,
ani running without controul into the jnoft dijiant
part' of [pact and time, in order to avoid the objects,
which cujlom has rendered too familiar to it
/~vF all the weaknefles,to which the human mind
0 is incident,there is not a more extraordinary
one than that blind, implicit reverence/ we are
apt to feel for the characters, the maxims, and the
institutions of antiquity. The love of novelty,
strong as it is, does not overcome our propensity
to tins-kind of admiration. There seems to be
tome unaccountable fafcination, that holds the
mind in fubje&ion, and prevents the clear exer
cise of judgment, while the imagination is tak
ing its flight into the regions of pall ages. We
are so captivated with the splendor and extent of
conquests which hijtory presents to our view ; with
the lustre and elevation of characters it displays ;
with the various and altonilhing revolutions it
records, that our reafonis overwhelmed,and can
not exert that force, which it discovers on other
There is scarce a circumstance that looks like
perfection, or even utility of cultivation, in which
ancient can bear any comparison with modern times.
Itmay not be unentertaining,to search for the cause
of oar veneration for antiquity, notwithstanding
it to have 110 reasonable foundation. In
forming our ideas of fame of the ancient nations,
whom we profefs to admire, we compare them
with other cotemporary ones ; whom we have been
accuftomcd t;o reprobate and despise. As molt ot
our opinions, respecting virtue and vice ; prail'e
and blame, are comparative, we sometimes be
llow an extravagance of applause, on a people vi
cious and d«praved, merely because they are not
jo deeply funkin depravity, as other people, with
whom we compare them. This is one reason why
encomiums are to lavishly heaped on characters
and actions, which scarce deserve a place in our
remembrance. Perhaps this admiration is heigh
tened by the profufe compliments, that historians
.have paid to particular periods and nations, at
the expense and disgrace of others. We feel no
motive to discredit their relation of tranfatftions,
orto doubt the propriety of their opinions or con
clusions. We are pleased with indulging refpeCi
and veneration, and that pleasure colts little or
nothing. There is no competition to excite jea
lousy, or alarm avarice.
Another reason that may be afligned for our
admiring the ancient republics in so high a degree,
is, that the different periods of their exiltence
are marked with a vast variety of tragical inci
dents. The human mind is delighted with what
ever is marvellous. This is one of the earlielt
propensities, that discovers itfelf in our nature.
Every man occasionally feels within himfelf a lan
guor andliftlefliiefs of mind ; from which, he takes
a pleasure in being roused. Ke is apt to affix a fa
vorable idea to almolt any cause, which has di
verted him, in those moments of heaviness and
infipiJity. This will generally be the cafe, un
less the incident which enlivens his feelings, is
attended with immediate or personal inconve
nience. With what eagerness, do we read ac
counts of maflacres, treasons, inundations and
earthquakes : When these happen at a distance,
we do not fed so much pain for the miserable fate
ol thole, who are involved in the distress, as we
0 at being roused and llimulated into a
Rigorous Itate of mind. No inference difhon'orable
:° human nature can be drawn from this reason-
J' one of the -sources of gratification,
is always innocent and sometimes ufeful.
1 inconveniences it produces does not counter
balance the advantages. We should however be
on om " guard, in drawing conclusions relative to
or own conduct. Causes, which excite admira
-IQn, u:ive a molt powerful influence, in seducing
j ls into error ot opinion. The reason of man
t ? es I,s balance, while the mind is employed in
1-act of admiring. In tills view of the matter,
lowl proper, that youth lliould not be al
liill' au unreitrained liberty, in reading ancient
as f°l? • lna y acquire opinions and feelings
3cious > as an unbounded indulgence in
ing novels can produce.
ex<^r,' e j^ mar ' ts are only introductory to a more
ter J the l'ubjedt,which lhall hereaf
reflp^ Car ' ' nt^e mean time,the reader will let his
blylT 101 * 3 'he deficiency, Which uiiavoida
- a ppeuedfroin this partial and ellay.
From SATURDAY, May 9, to W E D N E S D AY, May 13, 1759.
THE leading features of the Magna Cliarta of
Ameiica, or that mutual compact which now
unites her citizens, by one common bond, are
strongly imprcfied with the genius and character
of the people who formed it, and who will be
fubjecft to its future controul : FREEDOM, or
the MA J ESI y Of 1 HE PEOPLE, is wrote in Ca
pitals upon the face of the Plan, and its tenor and
l'ubltance bespeaks a critical acquaintance with
the rights of mankind in its compilers, with a
sacred regard to the perpetuating thole rights,
unimpaired, to the latest posterity.
fhis beautiful compilat ion originated from the
people, the only pure fountain and source of all
lawful power—nor were they, when called to
form it, under any duress of mind, or undue bias,
but prompted to the execution by principles of
pati iotifm, and with a view to reciprocal advan
tage, having the " Salus Populi" for the pole Star
of their conduct.
Among the particular traits of the System above
attended to, which claim our attention, may be
placed the periodical elections of those, who are
to administer it; as alio the liberal principles up
on which those elections are formed, which,
while they ensure a remedy for a corrupt admi
nistration, serve also as a preventive against the
difeal'e they are calculated to cure, affording a
conltant check to the progress of ill-directed in
tentions, and improper actions—and have the
further good influence of presenting future op
portunities for the enjoyment of the honors of
their country, to those who are found to deserve
them, thereby constantly encouraging a virtuous
emulation among the members of the society,
which operates but faintly, if at all, in those go
vernments, where the adventitious circumfiances
of birth, or fortune, give the only claim to emi
nence and preferment : Many more are the moral
and political advantages, which mull be derived
from this part of our excellent Constitution ; but
as detail is not here my I (hall proceed to
a view of fovne other general principles, which
presage equal benefit :/ Among which, may be
ranked those ltrong guards, against every kind of
monopoly, or exclusive advantages to be granted
to any class of citizens, in preference to another,
arilingfrom a good heart, great abilities, and su
perior merit, is acknowledged to be the only l'up
port of an American Aristocracy.
Freedom of IJjeech, and debates, and an mn
reftrained use of the Press, will operate as pow
erful auxiliaries, in chcrifhing and supporting
the future Liberties jof the country, by their na"
tural tendency to check and fruftrate the ill de
signs of men in power, and who, though unre
strained by the admonitions of confcicnce, that
faithful Monitor over all human actions, will
dread the stigma of a contemning public.
That relief of the mind from religious thral
dom, which has been productive of so many evils
in other countries, and which is so completely
guarded against in America, ltands among the
foremoll of those great charaCteristics, which give
her form of government a preference to any one
extant: Here the infallibility of the Pope is with
humility contradicted, while the magic power of
his foot, thrils with but faint and feeble palpita
tions : Here the kind aid of the civil arm, is 110
longer exerted to destroy, by fire and sword, the
bodies of men, in order to save their fouls : Here
without subscribing to thirty-nine articles, which
thirty-nine times in a day are frequently broken,
a person can be admitted to the privileges and
honors of his country : It is here that true Reli
gion presents her alluring and captivating charms
in resplendent lustre : A recluse and monastic
life, is 110 longer supposed to adorn the votaries
of Cliriftianity : But those actions, which are
prompted by the molt diffufive benevolence, are
esteemed the molt grateful incense to that Deity,
who is benevolence and love.
In America, Religion waves her peaceful ban
ners, courting, by her intrinsic merits, that obe
dience to her service, which any adventitious
power has ever been found inadequate to effect.
(To be continued.)
A BRAVE and virtuous man, " dares do all
that may become a man, who dares do more is
none." A good citizen will ever respeCt his ru
lers, and rev ere the laws, and must therefore be
averse to the committing any act unlawful, or
unjust ; he will blufif at the palpable injuries,
and daring effrontery of the man, who in a ci\ -
zlized state shall aflume the power of judgino*and
determining in his own cause ; he can not admit
thatthelaws of honor,fupercede those of reafoh,
religion and nature ; he can not conceive that
any man has a right to determine at will that ano
ther has offended liim, and infill that the fuppo
led offender shall acknowledge what he know ;»*.<>r '
believes to be falfe, or deliberately consent to h
murdered, or become a murderer ; he fonfiblv
feels that his country, his amiable wife, and
innocent, promiffing infants, are not beneath
a gentleman's notice ; and that he has no right
to rob them of his services, kind offices, support
and protection ; he believes that in Heaven there
is no exclusive privilege for gentlemen ; and
that he cannot plead the laws of modern hopor
before the sacred bar of unerring juflice : But,
O tempora ! O mores ! He feels too sensibly the
force of cruel cultom, and knows not how to
avoid the guilt, without dif'grace ; a most impi -
ous cultom has lanCtified the crime, .and made
the apprehensions of unjuit reproach more dread
ful to the christian, than damnation : Such is the
folly and depravity of this Qiiixotijh age, that a
man dares not be just to himfelf, his family, or
his country,leafl he should incur the odium of be
ing afraid to die, or to shed a little innocent
blood ; and though he should have llain an host
oi: his country's foes in the field of battle, yet
these shall not secure liis fame in the opinion of
the honorable fanatics, should he decline to llain
his name with fafhionable murder ; as there might
probably be some so bafe,and malignant, as to .»i
----fecft to believe, that the hero was more afraid of
death; than of the crime ; and the force ofcui
tom, and the fear of reproach, are now become
so powerful and obligatory, that he mull be more
or less than man, who can avoid faCri;iciiig every
thing precious, estimable, sacred, and truly ho
norable, in compliancc with the foolifh fafcinat
ing phantom called honor : Yet duelling has fqme
times only proved to be a little fclieme, of little
minds, to build a l.ttle fame ; it is often a brazen
Ihield,forged by desperate gam biers,and (harpers,
toprotect their tender names from truth's search
ing painful probe ; apl finely those, whose cha
racters will stand test of public inquisition,
can never with rcafon and propriety, resort to
this slender, doubtful, desperate fupportv it is
therefore devoutly to be wilhed, that no real gen
tleman would be guilty of an act, that not only
tarnishes his name, but renders it fufpecfted of
former taints, by confounding it vith those who
have no other means to lupport their pretentions
to a decent character, or continue their ruinour.
connexions with gentlemen ; and who, but for
this infamous tenure, would be expelled all re
putable society, but are now admitted into all
companies, who by the laws of honor are obliged
to be civil to those impudent, intruding harpi?s,
or to fight them ; and thus are the young, unful
pe<fting, and unwary, often honorably e«tfed of
their fortunes.
As duelling therefore,has evidently no other ten
dency, but to prove raJhnefs, folly, or guilt, it is
certainly a mode ofdecifion, that should be held
in themoft sovereign contempt,by every intrinsic
gentleman : Suppose a desperate game iter should
offer to flake afmn equal to a gentleman's whole
fortune on the throw of a die, would he not be
condemned as a madman, or a fool, who should
lillen to such apropofal! But should the gamelter
choose to put the gentleman's more important
life, at an equal, or perhaps greater hazard, the
laws of honor have decreed,that he shall die a fool,
or survive a felo?i. Such is the precarious tenure
of our lives at this day, that if any nijin is tired
of life, and chooses me for his butcher, or if he
takes a fancy to cut my throat, or blow my brains
out, he fends me a polite card to meet him at a
particular time and place ; I am bound in honor
to attend, and death closes the tragi-comi-farci
cal scene.
And can we, in our sober senses, be drawn into
this difgraceful and deflru<ftive vortex,in pursuit
ot an empty bubble, swelling only with the
found ol honor ? Can the soldier pluck the dear
bought laurels from his brow,and transplant them
on a dunghill ? Can he descend from the hero to the
murderer ? Can he {lain his glory with his bro
ther's blood ? Or, can he lloop to die,like bullies,
gamblers,madmen,boys and fools ? Can aman of
sense, cool, temperate, and dispassionate, resolve
against nature, reason and conviction, to close a
life of uniform virtue, with a crime ? Can he ap
proach Death in the mask of an hypocrite, and
with affected composure, flrive to hide a bleeding
heart ? Can the tender father, andfondhulband,
deliberately draw the cruel dagger, to give the
fatal flab to the future peace of his innocent
family ? Can the Patriot rob his country of an use