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These letters, and the sentiments of the writer expressed in them, were doubtless unknown to the leaders of the opposition. That Mr. Jefferson and his satellites should have charged him with little short of a treasonable attachment to Great Britain, and, as a consequence of it, with an inveterate hostility to France, is therefore not to be wondered at; we remember the tactics to which parties too frequently
So, too, in the succeeding year, when the seditious conduct of certain partisans of the opposition was brought by the president to the notice of Congress, who were induced to legislate against it, we find Hamilton, the imputed advocate of arbitrary power, declaring that there were provisions in the bill, which, according to a cursory view, appeared to be highly exceptionable, and such as more than any thing else might endanger civil war.
"I hope sincerely the thing may not be hurried through. LET US NOT ESTABLISH TYRANNY. Energy is a very different thing from violence. If we make no false step, we shall be essentially united; but if we push things to an extreme, we shall then give to faction body and solidity."- Vol. 11., p. 68.
He was charged, too, with hostility to State rights; but, on a subject materially affecting them, he declares himself in language which we earnestly recommend to the consideration. of our present ruling powers. "The idea," he says, "of the late president's [Washington's] administration, of considering the governor of each State as the first general of the militia, and its immediate organ in acting upon the militia, was wisely considered, and in my opinion wisely adopted, nd well to be adhered to."*
But enough; these instances are sufficient for our purpose, and, one would suppose, sufficient to have silenced his accusers for ever. Their malice pursued him to the grave; and although the person by whom he met his death ceased to utter these slanders for a season, they were afterwards revived in the miserable party controversies of a later day. Is it too much to hope that they now may be permitted to sleep for ever?
When the presidential election of 1800 had resulted in an
* Vol. II., p. 229.
equal vote for Jefferson and Burr, the personal interference and influence of Hamilton, it is well known, were exerted on the side of the former, and there can no longer remain a doubt, that they settled the question in his favor. Hamilton acted on this occasion, as on all others, with a single eye to what he deemed the honor and welfare of his country, regardless of his own private interests, predilections, or enmities, or those of his friends. From the moment of his meeting Mr. Jefferson in the cabinet of General Washington, the latter had been compelled to feel, and eventually to yield to, the superiority of his rival, towards whom he thenceforward cherished a bitter personal as well as political animosity. Hamilton, on his part, did not take pains to conceal his repugnance to the principles and character of Jefferson. He looked upon him as a visionary, but dangerous, theorist in morals and politics, as a dabbler in literature and science, and a hypocrite in every thing but religion, which, as a disciple of the school of Voltaire, he had affected to ridicule, with the malice, but not the wit, of his master. The two men were, in fact, as much opposed to each other in their private characters and opinions as in their public principles and conduct. But the one brooded in secret over his resentments, while the other, with the frankness of a soldier, as well as the native candor of the man, on all proper occasions avowed his sentiments, without any other restraints than those imposed by delicacy and honor. He carried, indeed, his heart in his hand, and it is not surprising that foul birds should have pecked at it. His character, however, has survived the calumnies of his enemies, many of whom professed to have buried their resentment in his untimely grave; but whether actuated by sincere veneration of the deceased, or by hostility to his murderer, is known only to the searcher of all hearts. But as the malicious attacks of his enemies could make no impression injurious to the character of Hamilton, so neither could their eulogies add one jot or tittle to his fame. So rich a combination of excellence, both of head and heart, of intellectual, moral, and social qualities, of various talents and knowledge, of native genius and practical ability, of private integrity and public virtue, has seldom appeared in any age or country. True it is, he had his faults, for he was a man; but considered as a statesman and a patriot, we ne'er shall look upon his like again.
Contrasted with Burr, his character appears in a somewhat different, but still more striking and favorable, light. Their relative position and feelings were widely different from those of Hamilton and Jefferson. Although, from dislike or suspicion of Burr, Hamilton had always avoided an intimacy with him, they had been fellow-soldiers in the Revolution, and fellow-citizens both before and afterwards. They were members of the same profession, and practised for many years at the same bar. In their mutual intercourse, they had always treated each other with the courtesy of gentlemen; nor were they ever known to have a personal difference before that leading to the fatal rencontre between them. And what was the origin of that lamentable catastrophe, but the preference given to Jefferson by Hamilton in the contested election of 1800,- a preference given to one whom he knew to be his enemy, over one whom he regarded merely as a political opponent, and did not suspect of personal ill-will towards him? Yet, when the question between Burr and Jefferson was pending in Congress, Hamilton interfered zealously and openly in favor of the latter, and unquestionably determined the choice of the House of Representatives. To this interference Jefferson owed his election, Hamilton his death; and through this singular fatality was the life of this great and good man sacrificed by his magnanimity towards an inveterate enemy, and by a devotion to the welfare of his country superior to all private and personal impulses of interest or passion.
We cannot close our remarks upon this valuable contribution to our political history, without expressing our thanks to the editor for the gratification its perusal has afforded us, and for the obligation he has conferred on every friend of sound principles and enlightened policy by its publication. The monument he has erected to departed Federalism will serve not only to perpetuate the honors due to its memory, and to that of his relative among the rest of its worthiest disciples, but, by inscribing his own name on the pedestal, to identify his reputation with theirs. May it prove also a beacon to guide his contemporaries in the only path that leads public men to honorable distinction, and their country to true glory!
ART. VI.A Universal and Critical Dictionary of the English Language; to which are added Walker's Key to the Pronunciation of Classical and Scripture Proper Names, much enlarged and improved; and a Pronouncing Vocabulary of Modern Geographical Names. By JOSEPH E. WORCESTER. Boston: Wilkins, Carter, & Co. Imperial 8vo. pp. 955.
AT the beginning of the present century, a proposition for the publication of an American dictionary of the English language would have excited great amazement. The projecting of such a work, as a rival of the dictionaries of Johnson and Walker, would have caused great merriment among the scholars of England; and any expectation cherished among us of superseding these authorities by a standard American dictionary would have been ridiculed by them, as a puerile attempt to embalm the American language with all its provincial peculiarities. Something of distrust, too, would have prevailed among the best scholars of the United States, who regarded English classical works as a part of their inheritance, and as models of style. It was not to be feared, indeed, that the diversity between England and the United States, in regard either to the written or spoken language, would ever become so remarkable as that between Spain and Portugal. The advancement of learning among us was so considerable, that such an apprehension would have been unreasonable. But fears not altogether groundless were entertained, both by American and English scholars, lest by inattention, or indifference, or a false notion of independence, there should be such a departure in the United States from English usage, either by the creation of new words, or by the use of words in new senses, or by combinations of words in violation of established idiom, as to produce great inconvenience in the intercourse between the parent country and the young confederacy, and a prejudice against us injurious to the growth of our literary reputation.
So early as 1789, Dr. Franklin, in a letter addressed to Noah Webster, cited several unauthorized words and phrases which had crept into our written language and parliamentary speeches, and advised him, in his future works for the cultivation of the English language, to set a discountenancing mark
upon such of them as were not required by the peculiar circumstances of our political institutions and local customs. Among the words strangely perverted, not only from the etymological, but from the secondary or metaphoric, signification, he instanced the word improve, as a verb denoting use or occupancy, applied both to persons and things. This was an old perversion of the word in New England, in its application to persons. It was thus used in the colonial laws of New Haven, about the middle of the seventeenth century. It was ordered, that the magistrates or other suitable officers should see that parents and masters provided means for teaching their children and apprentices to read the Scriptures and other good and profitable printed books in the English tongue, by improving schoolmasters or other helps." Similar examples might be multiplied. At a later period, the word was applied to the use or occupancy of houses and lands. Such a use of the word was common at the beginning of the present century; but we do not remember to have seen or heard it in this sense for many years.
Mr. Webster, no doubt, received the caution of Dr. Franklin with respect; but he was ever apt to touch with a lenient hand the trespasses of his countrymen against the established usages of standard English writers. In his large dictionary, he gives, as the sixth and last meaning of the verb improve," to use, to occupy "; as in the example, — “The house or farm is now improved by an industrious tenant." But in the peculiar New England use of the word, it mattered not whether the tenant were industrious or slothful, careful or wasteful. The word industrious, in the example, so qualifies the character of the tenant, as to countenance the legitimate meaning of the verb; namely, bettering the premises. We do not suppose that Mr. Webster aimed to procure favor for the word, in its perverted sense, by stealth; although, by his remark subjoined to the example, he does not set a discountenancing mark upon it. "This application," he says, "is perhaps peculiar to some parts of the United States. It, however, deviates little from that in some of the foregoing definitions."
Among the literary gentlemen of Boston and Cambridge there arose, near the beginning of the present century, a vigilance for the preservation of the English language in its purity, which deserves to be kept in remembrance, as a part