Obrázky stránek

estimate of your talents and disposition, which enabled me, in some degree, to anticipate the character of your reply. For much bold assertion,-much confused reasoning,-much idle declamation,---much vehemence, and even much passion, I was prepared. But before the appearance of your “ VINDICATION,". I had, after all, no adequate conception of the . animosity I was fated to encounter. The odium theologicum, which had once been proverbial, appeared to have given place to the vindictive malice of the baffled speculator; and the fastidious objector to - classical allusions," seemed to claim for his appropriate motto


[ocr errors]

You have, indeed, poured yourself forth, Mr. Colden, without restraint and without disguise. You have assailed me with every weapon of ridicule and detraction. You would devote me to public contempt and execration, as a childish reasoner,-an obscure and half learned pettifogger,-an ignorant and corrupt legislator;—but fortunately, the attack is as impotent as it is violent;-I feel, that it cannot hurt me. You may degrade yourself, Sir, but I know, you cannot degrade me. Your motives are too visible; and the reputation, which it has been the business of my life to establish, is proof, I flatter myself, against your aspersions. Believe me, therefore, I can smile, and pardon the exasperated vanity of the unlucky author; and if I cannot overlook, I do not fear, the malignant rage of the alarmed monopolist.

Whether those for whom you have displayed so much devoted, but intemperate zeal, may not have cause to deprecate your friendship, is not for me, Sir, to

determine. It is enough, that I have found consolation in your enmity. To me, your vehemence is but the sign of false and wavering confidence in your strength. The virulence of your resentment is, of itself, proof of your own sense of its injustice; and the personal invective with which you labour to support your cause, will probably be interpreted by others into a confession of its weakness.

Your friends may indeed lament, that your“ endeavour to refrain from any undue expression of your feelings,9* has not been successful ; but, under all eircumstances, it was certainly too much for them to have expected. In a case like yours, the influence of temperament, and the force of habit, are of themselves almost irresistible. But the peculiar acrimony which distinguishes the new progeny of your wrath, is, moreover, to be ascribed to the accidental com bination of " deep personal interest in the controversy,"t with a scientific perception of its merits. If you had not been a lawyer, Sir, you never could have seen so clearly, that you were wrong; and if the fruits of your successful practice had not been supposed to be at stake, you could never have been sợ much irritated by the discovery or exposure of your error.

It is this happy union of personal feeling and pro« fessional skill, which gives to your malevolence its deliberatė character-that “ in the very whirlwind of your passion, begets a temperance that gives smoothness” to misreprésentations, which the solicitude of the party must have prompted; and enabled

* Vide Colden's Vindication, p. 9.

Ibid. p.9.

you to resort to artifices which the experience of the advocate could only have suggested.

Willingly would I have declined a controversy commenced in such a spirit, and continued at such fearful odds—a controversy, in which I have no private or professional concern, and which, as it threatened to encroach largely upon my time, must (on that account, if on no other) prove detrimental to my interests. But you had left me no alternative. The nature of your provocation rendered it impossible for me to yield, with honour, to the suggestions of prudence; and although you thus forced me into the discussion, you now affect to consider the 6 vindication of the Committee,” as merely the ostensible object of my former address to you. You attribute my letter, in the first place, to “ anxiety to subserve the views of those who have an interest in destroying the exclusive right of Messrs. Livingston and Fulton ;** and then, with equal consistency and truth, you ascribe it to “ hostility” to those against whom you charge me with having " enlisted with so much zeal,”-an hostility, which you

characterize as

deadly,” and impute to “ some foundation deeper than the present controversy.”+

To those, Sir, to whom I have the honour to be known, a formal denial of such charges, would, I think, appear superfluous ; and those who are unacquainted with me, would probably deem a contradiction useless, which necessarily depends for its efficacy, upon the value of my own assertion. If my life and character are not sufficient to repel your slanders, 1 must rely for their refutation upon those

[blocks in formation]

circumstances which rendered the public vindication of my conduct, a proper and necessary act of self-defence, and shall rest contented in believing, that the intelligent and candid portion of the community, will not, in judging of my motives, be prevented by artful and uncharitable insinuations, from adverting to the nature of my provocations.

If I am not deceived, they will detect, throughout your latter publication, a fixed design to embarrass the real question in dispute between us, by the introduction of topics foreign to the argument. By the same expedient by which you hope to obviate all objections to your statements, upon the ground of youravowed interest in the controversy--you attempt to divert the attention of the public from the manner in which you have conducted it ;-in excuse for epithets which grace your own composition, you allege that my languages would justify in retaliation, almostany terms which you might apply to me:"*—and truly, Sir, there are none, however vile or low, that you have thought unworthy of your service.

That there are passages in my letter in which I intended to express myself with strong and pointed severity, I never shall deny ; but I insist, that in repelling your attacks, I was neither wanton nor indecorous. I did not certainly go out of my way to wound you ; nor can I charge myself with a single remark which the subject of which I treated, did not properly suggest, or the provocation which I had received, amply justify. I felt, indeed, that I had been misrepresented and traduced, but I knew too well what was due to the public, as well as to myself, to indulge in passionate recrimination, vulgar sarcasms,

* Colden's Vindication, p. 11.


and insolent expressions of contempt. And believe me, Sir, that your example can never tempt me to shew myself regardless of those motives by which gentlemen are usually induced to restrain and moderate the public expressions of their feelings.

On your part, you are compelled to acknowledge, that a “ zeal to vindicate the rights and interests of your friends, has led you to express yourself indecorously towards the Committee ;"and you even condescend to assure the other members of that Committee that you had no intention of speaking of them with disrespect.* You are careful, indeed, to exclude me, (for I had the temerity to answer you) from the benefit of this acknowledgment; but yet you repeat your former charges, without exception of persons, or qualification of terms, and appeal to my book to prove that what you had said of the comin mittee was correct.t

To sustain, and reinforce your former allegations in regard to them, is, in fact, the avowed


of your latter publication. Your former charges are again set forth with every circumstance of aggravation, and restated as the theses of your new discourse. You even avail yourself of that explanation of the views of the Committee which your own book had rendered necessary for their defence, as an apology for enlarging the bounds of the discussion, and for embodying in your " Vindication,” every thing that had ever “ been presented in support of the Policy, Justice, Validity, and Constitutionality" of

your monopoly :f—and after all this, you tell me, with rather more of frankness than consistency, “not to expect an

Coldeu's Vindication, p. 13.

* Ibid p. 13.

Ibid. p. 15.

« PředchozíPokračovat »