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ment, lighted with sky-lights. The opening fronting the Hall is always displayed; and no matter who comes or who goes, president, foreign minister, respectable citizen or stranger, this Hortensis proclaims the frightful progress of vice! She commands the pass to the gallery and the hall; and all who pass from the latter to the Senate chamber, or from thence to the hall, must necessarily pass through this temple; here she stands or sits in her chair of state, with a table spread with accommodation, and a maid to attend her. I have seen her surrounded by her smiling votaries in dozens; I have seen the representatives of a great people cringing around this C....... ; yes I have seen this! while me thought the genius of Columbia dropped a tear! In short, the bold strides of licentiousness seems to threaten the total overthrow of virtue! It is a maxim universally acknowledged, that virtue is the basis of all republican governments; it is the ultimate security of the people; this once gone, farewell to freedom! One of the members informed me, that when an effort was made to expel those retailers of spiritous liquors, &c. from the capitol, it was alleged "that it was a place of general privilege, over which Congress had no control." It would be an useless waste of words to say what this argument would lead to; the inference is plain. But the municipal laws of every petty corporation contradict this principle. They cannot pretend to say the constitution denies the right.
Before my visit to the metropolis I had heard much of the insolence of the subordinate officers of government,* within a few years past. I had heard them stigmatised with every opprobrious epithet, such as "insolent mob, rabble, aristocracy," and many other harsh names; that it was almost unsafe for any one to venture in Washington, who was not a prince, a foreign ambas
* A good story enough is related of General Jackson, which happened upon his first visit to Washington after the victory of New-Orleans. The general came on to settle his accounts, and those upstarts who are in the habit of quizzing strangers, by sending them from one room to another, tried the game with him, not knowing who he was. It may be supposed that the general soon discovered the scheme, and drawing his sword, said he would go no farther; adding, that his name was Jackson, that he came to settle his accounts, which must be done instantly,
sador, or a member of Congress. No one, however,
I am far from saying that poverty ought to exclude men from any gift in the government, on the contrary, they are the very men upon whom they ought to be conferred. But I do contend that ignorance ought to be an eternal objection, because it strikes at the vitals of our government, not only by its dangerous tendency to en⚫ courage vice, but to arrest the progress of knowl edge, one of the surest props of its existence. It is absurd to expect that men will respect rights, which they do not understand, or that learning can flourish when it has no incentive; what encouragement for aspiring gen ius when illiteral men are promoted over its head? Besides, it is casting pearls before swine, their growling souls are incapable of gratitude or estimation, they know nothing but to value themselves, and under-value every one else. I have seen men of worth and learning leave Washington for want of employment, who would have sacrificed their talents for $100, while a pet
the hou carpets
on the f
open all theft. in the wi
manner s those who
ty door-keeper receives $1500 per annum, though not employed more than six months of that time.
It is amusing enough to see the inturns, intrigue and cunning, those leeches resort to, when they happen to be rivals for office. They are always upon the lookout, and when a vacancy happens, they observe the utmost secrecy on the subject, even with their bosom friends, and repair to their respective patrons without loss of time, and it often happens, that the candidate least qualified proves successful. An instance of this, occurred under my eye, during my residence in the city. The commissioners of Ghent, for settling the Spanish claims, held their sittings in the old capitol, adjacent to the room I occupied. It happened in the time, that a messenger in this service died; several candidates stood for the office, and amongst them, a respectable young inan, who boards at the same house with myself, whose talents were worthy of a more respectable office. But a man by the name of F. bringing a letter from the P. obtained the place; the most abandoned miscreant in existence! The board dissolved in a few days, and the building was assigned to the commissioners of the board of St. Petersburg; those last, transacting their business principally in their boarding houses, were seldom in the building. During this time, the house is left to the care of Monsieur F. who is constantly drunk; taking droves of lewd women and worthless characters into the house, which is furnished in the richest manner, (fine carpets, tables, chairs, and desks,) by government; here he feasts his guests upon oysters, drink, &c. at untimely hours. Sometimes he comes in drunk, throws himself on the floor, without sense or motion, leaving the door open all night, and the property exposed to fire and theft. At another time you see him in broad day-light, in the wide street, staggering after a black woman, in a manner shocking to decency! This fellow is one of those who insulted me, at the house of the P. where he acted as porter, and used to usher in Secretaries and foreign Ministers! Now one of these men receives as much per annum as a New-England governor.
Whilst Col. L. acted as commissioner for the public
building, some years back) I am told by several of the workmen, that a mason whose wages were 82,50* per day, would spend a whole day in faceing a stone, the next day, another mason in placing the stone on the building, would hit it a blow with the sledge and split it to atoms! Col. L. (so says report) used to put his hand into the treasury as often as he pleased, for much of which he has never accounted. The money is known to have been drawn from the treasury by him, but what then? Col. L. is dead, and government may get the money as it can. Thus much for the public purse.
Here an important question might be asked, where a man of sound principles is promoted to office, does he not eventually become corrupt? In many instances I should think he does. And why may he not be as virtuous as before? Because the same incentives no longer exist. Before his promotion, his all depended upon his reputation, neither had he the means or temptation. After his elevation, he has much money (that bane of virtue,) to spend, little work to do, and that not his own, he asks no favours, his fortune is made, he sits down and enjoys himself with his friends, whilst he is doing this, his fellow hireling is doing the same thing, of course they stand mutually pledged to each other in. this be the case in the best choice that human wisdom can make, how dangerous then is patronage to liberty! hence it is that corruption is winding itself into the executive department, which is loaded with officers who fatten upon the people. These remarks have insensibly led to the source of the evil, I mean the great patronage of the President, and proves the impropriety of eleva ting the same man for a longer term than four years. Hence it is that the executive has drawn an aristocracy (not of nobles by the way) around it. These are the men who have rendered Washington city so obnoxious abroad. On the other hand, it must be acknowledged, that there is a vast deal of business to transact in the executive department which requires a great number of hands; the whole business of the United States, it may
* It is now reduced to $1 25.
he t wish
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be supposed, is enormous; nor do the people expect er this business to be transacted for nothing, but they expect civil treatment from men in their service.*
It often happened while in Washington, that I met with "uncle Sam's" men, as they call themselves. Walking in the capitol square one day, I stepped up to a man whom I found there at work, and asked him whom he worked for, (meaning his employer, from whom I wished to obtain some information.) "me," said the fellow, "I work for uncle Sam," in a tone of unequalled impudence. No matter where you meet those understrappers you may distinguish them by their unparalleled effrontery.
Heads of Departments.-In order, I ought to have noticed these before the subordinate officers, and hope I shall be pardoned for the omission. The truth is, these gentlemen have been so often and so ably described, and so long before the public, that I had intended to confine my remarks to those objects less known. Besides, what can I say of them, that has not been said a thousand times; yet, as it may argue a want of respect, in a general view, wholly to overlook men who have been so eminently distinguished by their country, I hazard a brief sketch of their persons; to attempt any thing more, would be a great piece of arrogance, even did I possess the talents, which I do not.
To begin then with the President, I never saw him but once, and that in his carriage at some distance, I had merely a glimpse at his features, he looked very old and venerable. I went to his house for the purpose of seeing him, but was repulsed by his domestics, of him therefore, I can say no more. The next great man I called on, was the attorney general. I promised myself much pleasure upon seeing the author of the Spy, and waited for him at his office, with no little enthusiasm, but was never more disappointed. He received me with a smile, to be sure, but it was rather a sarcastic one. Mr. W. is a good figure, being tall, straight, and well' form
* In justice to these clerks, I must observe, that they pay the strictest attention to their duty; in going through the various departments, I found every man at his post. The hours of business are from 10 to 3.