Gazette of the United-States. (New-York [N.Y.]) 1789-1793, August 19, 1789, Page 148, Image 4

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    The Right Constitution oja Commonwealth examined.
[Continued from No. 33.]
IT is agreed, that " if any be never so good a patriot," (whe
ther his power be prolonged or not) 44 he will find it hard to keep
felf from creeping in upon him, and prompting lb me ex
travagancies for his own private benefit." But it is asserted, that
power will be prolonged in the hands of the fame patriot, the
fame rich, able, powerful, and well-descended citizen, See. as
much as if he had a feat for lile, or an hereditary feat in a senate,
and, what is more deftru&ive, his power and influence is con
stantly increasing, so that felf is more certainly and rapidly grow
ing upon him; whereas, in the other cafe, it is defined, limited,
and never materially varies. If, in the firft cafe, 44 he be Ihortly
44 to return to a condition common with the reft ofhis brethren,"
it is only for a moment, or a day, or a week, in order to be re
elected with frefti eclat, redoubled popularity, increased reputa
tion, influence, and power. Self-intereft, therefore, binds him
to propagate a falfe report and opinion, that he 44 does nothing
44 but what is just and equal," while in fatt he is everyday doing
"what is unjust and unequal ; while he is applying all the offices ot
the state, great and small, the revenues of the public, and even the
judicial power, to the augmentation of his own wealth and ho
nors, and thofeof his friends, and to the punishment, depreflion
and deftru&ion of his enemies, with the acclamations and hofan
nas of the majority of the people.
44 This, without controversy, must needs be the most noble,
44 the most just, and the most excellent way of government in
44 free states," provided our author meant only a mixed state,
in which the people have an efiential share, and the command of
the public purse, with the judgment of causes and accusations as
jurors, while the power is tempered and controlled by theari
llocratical part of the community in another house, and the execu
tive in a diftinft branch. But as it is plain his meaning was to
jumble all these powers in one centre, a single assembly of rcpre
fentatives, it must be pronounced the most ignoble, unjust, and
detestable form of government; worse than even a well-digeftcd
simple monarchy or anftocracy. The greatest excellency of it is,
that it cannot last, but hastens rapidly to a revolution.
For a further illustration of this fubjeft, let a supposition be
made, that in the year 1656, when this book was printed, the
system of it had been reduced to prattice : A fair, full, and just
representation of the people of England appears in the house of
commons in Westminster-hall ; my lord General Cromwell is re
turned for Westminster or London ; IretQn, Lambert, Sec. for
other principal cities or counties; Monk, Sir Henry Vane, See.
for others ; and evtn Hugh Peters for some borough ; —all eyes
profoundly bow to my lord general as the firft member of the
lioufe ; the other principal characters are but his primary planets,
and the multitude but secondary ; altogether making a great ma
jority in the intercft of his highness : If the majority is dear,and
able to excite a strong current of popular rumours, ardor, and en
thusiasm, in their favour, their power will increase with every
annual election, until Cromwell governs the nation more abfo-
Jutely than any simple monarch in Europe. If there are in the
house any members so daring as to differ in opinion, they will
iofe their feats, and more fubmiflive chara&crs be returned in their
places; but if the great men in trie house ftiould fall into pr.tty
equal divisions, then would begin a warfare of envy, rancor, ha
tred, and abuse of each other, until they divided the nation into
two paities, and both must take the field.—Suppofe, for a further
illustration, the monarchical and ariftocratical branches in Eng
land suspended, and all authority lodged in the present house of
commons ; —fuppofe that, in addition to all the great national
question of legislation, were adced the promotion of all offices in
the church, the law, the army, navy, excise, customs, and all
questions of foreign alliance ; let all the foreign ambafladors, as
well as candidates for offices, solicit there :—The contemplation
must be amusing ! but there is not a member of the house could
seriously wish it, after thinking a moment on the consequence.
The obje&s are smaller, and the present temptations less, in our
American houses ; but the impropriety would be equally obvious,
though perhaps not so instantaneously deftruftive.
Our author proceeds to prove his do&rine by examples out of
the Roman history. 44 What more noble patriots were there
44 ever in the world than the Roman senators were, while they
44 were kept under by their kings, and felt the fame burthens of
44 their fury, as did the reft of the people?"
If by the patriots are meant men who were brave and a&ive in
war to defend the commonwealth against its enemies, the Roman
senators and patricians were, under the kings, as good patriots
as the plebeians were, and no bett< r. Whether they were ever
kept under by their kings, or whether their kings were kept un
der by them, I s ubmit to Livy and Dionyfius. The whole line
of their kings, Romulus, Numa, Tullus, Ancus, Lucius Tar
quinus, Servius Tullius, were meritorious princes ; yet the patri
cians and senators maintained a continual series of cabals against
them, constantly conspiring to set up one, and pull down another.
Romulus was put to death by the patricians ; Tullus Hoftillus
was murdered by the patricians ; Lucius Tarquinius was affaflina
ted by the patricians ; and Servius Tullius too was murdered by
the patricians, to make way for Tarquin. Some of these excel
lent princes were dtftroyed for being too friendly to the people,
and others for not being servile enough to the senate. I fit is patri
otism to persecute to death every prince who has an equitable de
sire of doing jufticc, and easing the burthens of the plebeians ; to
intrigue in continual faClions to set up one king and butchcr ano
ther ; toconfider friendftiip, and humanity, and equity, to the
plebeians as treason against the state, and the highest crime that
could be committed either by a king or patrician ; then the Ro
man senators under the kings were noble patriots. But tta utmost
, degrees of jealousy, envy, arrogance, ambition, rancor, rage, and
cruelty, that ever constituted the ariftocratical or oligarchical
character in Sparta, Ven cc, Poland, or where ever unbalanced
ariftocratics have exiftcd and been most enormous, existed in the
Roman patricians under their kings.
What can our author mean by the senate and people's 44 feeling
the burthens of the fury of their kings ?" Surely be had read
the Roman hftory! Did he mean to repref nt it? The whole
line of Roman kings, until we come to Tarquin the Proud, were
mild, moderate princes, and their greatest fault, in the eyes ot
the senators. was their endeavor now and then to protest the peo
ple against the tyranny of the senate. Their greatest fault, in the
judgment of truth, was too much complaisance to the senate, by
making the conilitution more ariftocratical : Witntfs the assem
blies by centuries instituted by Servius Tullius.
But Nedham fliould have considered what would have been the
fruits in Rome, from the time of Romulus, of annual elc&ions
of fen'ntors to be vested with supreme power, with all the autho
rity of the king, senate, and people. All those perl'ons whoft
whose names we now read as kings, and all those who are men
tioned as senators, would havecaballed with the people as well a
cne another. Their paflions would have been extingnifhed ; the
fame jealousy and envy, ambition and avarice, revenge and cruel
ty, would have been displayed in aftemblies of the people : fome
tirnes one junto would have been popular,fometimes another: one
set of principles would havif prevailed one year, an 4 another the
next ; now one law, then another ; at this time one rule of pro
perty, at that another; riots, tumults, and battles, would have
be<n faught continually ; the law would have been a perfect Pro
teus. But asthis confufoon could not last long, cither a simple mo
narchy, or an aristocracy, must have arisen ; these might not have
lasted long, and all the revolutions def:ribed by Plato and Ariftr
tle as growing out of one another, and that we lee in the Greek,
Roman,and Italian republics,didgrow outof one another, must have
taken place, until the people weary ofrhange, would have fettled
under a single tyranny and ftandingarnly,unlcfsthey had been wife
enough to eftabhfh a well-ordered government of thiee branches.
It is easy to mifreprcfent and confound things in order to make
them anfwcr a purpose, but it was not because the authority was
permanent, or Jlanding, or hereditary, that the behaviour of the fe
natewas woife alter the expuliion of the kings than it had been
under them; for the dignity of patricians and the authority of
senators, was equally Jlanding, permanent, and hereditary, under the
kings, from the institution of Romulus to the expulsion of Tar
quin, as it was afterwards, from the expuliion of Tarquiu to the
institution of tribunes, and indeed to the subversion of the com
monwealth. It wasnotit permanency, but its omnipotence its being
unlimited, unbalanced, uncontrouled, that occasioned the abuse ; and
this is precisely what we contended for, that power is always a
bused when unlimited and unbalanced, whether it be perma
nent or temporary, a diftiu&ion that makes little difference in cf
feft. The temporary has often been the worftof the two,becaufe
it has often been sooner abused, and morcgrofsly, in order to ob
tain its revival at the Hated period. It is agreed that patricians
nobles, ft nators, the ariftocratical part of the community, call it
by what name you please, are noble patriots when they are kept
under; they are really then the best men and the citizens :
But there is no poflibility of keeping them under but by giving
them a m after in a monarchy,and twomafters in a free government
One of the masters I mean is the executive power in the firft ma
<*iftrate, and the other of the people in the houfc of representatives.
Under these two masters they are,in general,the best men, citizens,
magistrates, generals, or other officers ; they are the guardian s
ornaments, and glory of the community. (To be continued.)
I viijh the minds of the Americans to be unfetter
ed, andmuj] therefore requeji you and the printers in
this country to publish the following extracts from thi
" Diversions of Purley," -which is almojl the onL
treatise on our language that unfolds its trueprinciples.
" DR. LOWTH, when he undertook to write
his Introduction, with the bell intention in the
world, moll afliiredly finned againll his bettei
judgment: for he begins modjudicioufly thus—
" Universal Grammar explains the principles
" which are common to all languages. The
" Grammar of any particular language, applies
" those common principles to that particular lan
" guage." And yet with this clear truth before
his eyes, he boldly proceeds to give a particular
grammar, without being himfelf poflefled of one
lingle principle of universal Grammar. Again he
fays, " the connective parrs of sentences are the
" moll important of all" ; after which he proceeds
to his examples of the proper and improper use of
these connectives—without having the moll dis
tant notion of the meaning of the words whole
employment he undertakes to fettle. The con
sequence was unavoidable, that having no reason
able rule to go by, and no opponent fignification
to direct him, he was compelled to trull his own
fanciful taste, and the uncertain authority of
others, and has consequently approved and con
demned without truth or reason." page 284 note.
" Johnson's merit ought not to be denied to
him ; but his Dictionary is the mofl imperfect and
faulty, and the leall valuable of any of his pro
ductions; and that fliare of merit which it poflefled,
makes it by so much the more hurtful. It mull
be confefled that his Grammar and Hilloiy and
Dictionary of what he calls the Englilh language,
are, in all refpecfts, except the bulk of the latter,
moll truly contemptible performances ; and a rc
proach ro the learning and indullry of a nation,
which could receive them with the slightest ap
Nearly one third of this Dictionary is as much
the language of the Hottentots as of the Englilh;
and it would be no difficult mutter, so to translate
any one of the plainell and moll popular numbers
Df the Spectator into the language of that Die
;ionary, that no mere Englishman, tho well read
in his own language, would be able to compre
hend one sentence ofit. page 267.
" Harris defines a word to be a "found fignifi
sant 5" then he defines conjunctions to be " words,
(that is, founds pgnificant) devoid oj Signification."
Afterwards ke allows that tliey have " a kind 0f
fignification." Mr. Harris goes farther, and fays,
they are a " kind of middle beings" (he mull mean
between fignification and no fignification) " shar
ing the attributes of both" (that is, of fignification
and no fignification) " and conducing to link both
together," (that is, fignification and no fignifica
tion.) " His definition of proportion is jull as ri
diculous. Yet this is a specimen of what Lowth
calls the moll perfect example of Analyfis,tliat has
been given since the days of Arillotle." page 165.
I hefe charges, however severe, are doubtless
just. Harris has publifhedavolumecalled Hermes,
in which he does little more than endeavor to
prove that our Gothic forefathers 2000 years ago,
were as great philosophers 3S Plato and Arillotle.
The time will come when the philological trea
dles of these authors will be numbered with the
monkifli volumes of fcholallic theology, and
thrown among therubbifh of literature. But what
then ? If common sense Ihould get the better of
tliefe absurd fyllems, new coxcombs and new pe
dants will Hart some others equally absurd and
make prol'elytes to them. While we have pre
tended philosophers who can fetioufly attempt to
to prove that the earth was once covered with a
crull, which was burll at the flood and tumbled
into mountains—while they can calmly try to per
luade us that the whole fyllem of worlds which
we fee is lurroundecl with a shell of brass or cop-
P er — anf l while very learned men dare to believe
that mankind once had tails, and went on all
fours^ —I fay while our preflesteem with such Huff
as this, we are not to be surprised that grave doc
tors and right reverends should think favagescapa
ble of inventing words without meaning, and ar
ranging them as eight dillinct parts of speech.
An ACT to eftablijh an EXECU I IVE
MENT, to be denominated the DEPARI'Mvvt*
BE it cnarted by the Senate and Hottfe of R c pre
fentatives oj the United States of America in ConLtft
ajfembled, That there lhall be an executive depart
ment,to bfc denominated the Department of War •
and that there lhall be a principal officer therein
to be called the SecretaryJ'or tlie department of
war, who {hall perform and execute fucli duties
as lhall from time to time be enjoined on, or en.
milted to him by the President of the United
States, agreeable to the Constitution, relative to
military coinmilfions,or to the land,or naval forces
lhips, or warlike stores of the United States or to
such other matters refpecfting military or naval
affairs, as the Prelident of the United States lhall
alfign to the said department, or relative to the
granting of lands to persons entitled thereto, for
military services rendered to the United States or
.elative to Indian affairs : and furthermore
That the said principal officer lhall conduct the
oufinefs of the said department in such man
ner, as the President of the United States lhall
from time to time order or inftrudt.
And be it further enatied, That there lhall bein
he said department, an inferior officer, to be at>-
pointed by the said principal officer, to be em
ployed therein as he lhall deem properand to be
called the Chief Clerk in the department of war,
and who, whenever the said principal officer lhall
be removed from office by the Prelident of the
United States, or in any other cafe of vacancy,
lhall during such vacancy, Imve the charge, and
culbody of all records, hooks, and papers, ap
pertaining to the said department.
And be it further enacted, That the said princi
pal officer,and every other perfonto be appointed
or employed in the laid department, lhall, before
he enters on the execution of this office or em
ployment, take an oath or affirmation well and
faithfully to execute the trull committed to him.
And be it further enacted, That the Secretary
for the department of war, to be appointed in
consequence of this a<sl, lhall forthwith after
his appointment, be entitled to have the custody
and chai ge of all records, books, and papers ill
the office of Secretary for the department of war,
heretofore eftablilhed by the United States in
Congress afiembled.
F. A. Muhlenberg, Speak-r of the House of Rrprtfcntolhis.
John Adams, Vicc-Prejidcnt cj the United States,
and Prefidevt oj the Senate.
GLORGfc WASHINGTON, President of the UnitedStatts.
An ACT for the efiablifhmetit and support
BE it enattcdby the Striate and Hcufe of Rsprifcn
latives oj the United States of America in Congress if
fembled, That all expences which lhall accrue
from and after the fifteenth day of August one
thousand seven hundred and eighty-nine, in tht
neceflary support, maintenance, and repairs of all
light-houses, beacons, buoys, and public piers
ere<fled, placed, or funk before the palling of this
aift, at the entrance of, or within any bay, inlet,
harbour, or port of the United States, tor ren
dering the navigation thereof easy and fafe, (hall
be defrayed out of the Treasury of the United
States : Provided nevertheless, Thatnone
of the said expences lhall continue to be so defray
ed by the United States, after the expiration of
one year from the day aforefaid, unless such ligl't
houfes, beacons, buoys, and public piers, tall
in the mean time be ceded to, and veiled in the
United States, by the State or States refpeiftivelf
in which the fame may be, together with the lands
and tenements thereunto belonging, and together
with the jurifditftion of the fame.
And be it further enatled, That a light-lion c
(hall be eretfled near the entrance of the Chela
peake-Bay, at such place, when ceded to the
United States in manner aforefaid, as the President
of the United States lhall direcft.
And be it further enaCled, That it lhall be tie
duty of the Secretary of the Treasury to P r ° VI e
by contracts which lhall be approved by the Pre
dent of the United States, for building a I'g ,
lioufe near the entrance ofCJielapeake-Baj, an
for rebuilding when neceflary, and keeping 1
good repair, the light-houses, beacons, bu°y >
and publick piers in the several States, a,l£ 0
furnilhing the fame with all neceflary fupp > e »
and also to agree for the falarics, wages, 01 '
of the person or persons appointed by the ,e
dent,for the fuperintendance and care of the am
And be it further enatted, That all pilots in _
bays, inlets, rivers, harbours, and ports o
United States, lhall continue to be regulate■
conformity wi h the exilting laws ot th-
refpeiflively wherein such pilots may be, o.
such laws as the States may respective' y ]<j
ter enadt for thepurpofe, until further leg l
provision lliall be made by Congress. rG
Speaker of the Ihufc of WfX uu
JOHN ADAMS, Vict-Frtfiirnt ojthe Untie
and President oj J -
ArpROVED, Aucust 7, ijßg. „ suits-
GEORGE WASHINGTON, Prefiient oj the V»u