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when I see an unfortunate prince, whose reign was a continued demonstration of the goodness and benevolence of his heart, of his attachment to the people of whom he was the monarch, who, though educated in the lap of despotism, had given repeated proofs that he was not the enemy of liberty, brought precipitately and ignominiously to the block without any substantial proof of
of guilt, as yet disclosed-without even an authentic exhibition of motives, in decent regard to the opinions of mankind; when I find the doctrines of atheism openly advanced in the convention, and heard with loud applauses; when I see the sword of fanaticism extended to force a political creed upon citizens who were invited to submit to the arms of France as the harbingers of liberty ; when I behold the hand of rapacity outstretched to prostrate and ravish the monuments of religious worship, erected by those citizens and their ancestors; when I perceive passion, tumult and violence usurping those seats, where reason and cool deliberation ought to preside, I acknowledge that I am glad to believe there is no real resemblance between what was the cause of America and what is the cause of France; that the difference is no less great than that between liberty and licentiousness. I regret whatever has a tendency to confound them, and I feel anxious, as an American, that the ebullitions of inconsiderate men among us may not tend to involve our reputation in the issue." *
Washington, from his elevated and responsible situation, endeavored to look beyond the popular excitement, and regard the affairs of France with a dispas
* Hamilton's Works, v. 566.
THE PRESIDENT ON FRENCH AFFAIRS.
sionate and impartial eye, but he confessed that he saw in the turn they had lately taken the probability of a terrible confusion, to which he could predict no certain issue: a boundless ocean whence no land was to be seen. He feared less, he said, for the cause of liberty in France, from the pressure of foreign enemies, than from the strifes and quarrels of those in whose hands the government was intrusted, who were ready to tear each other to pieces, and would more probably prove the worst foes the country had.
CHAPTER X X.
GENET PRESENTS HIS LETTER OF CREDENOE-HIS DIPLOMATIO SPEECH
WASHINGTON'S CONVERSATION WITH JEFFERSON-CAPTURE OF THE
SHIP GRANGE AND OTHER BRITISH VESSELS--QUESTION OF RESTITUTION-DISSATISFAOTION OF GENET-DEMANDS RELEASE OF TWO AMERICAN CITIZENS—WASHINGTON'S SENSITIVENESS TO THE ATTACKS OF
THE PRESS-HIS UNSHAKEN DETERMINATION.
On the 18th of May, Genet presented his letter of credence to the President ; by whom, notwithstanding his late unwarrantable proceedings at Charleston, he was well received ; Washington taking the occasion to express his sincere regard for the French nation.
Jefferson, who, as Secretary of State, was present, had all his warm sympathies in favor of France, roused by Genet's diplomatic speech. “It was impossible," writes he to Madison," for any thing to be more affectionate, more magnanimous, than the purport of Genet's mission. 'We wish you to do nothing,' said he,' but what is for your own good, and we will do all in our power to promote it. Cherish your own peace and prosperity. You have expressed a willingness to enter into a more liberal commerce with us; I bring full powers to form such a treaty, and a preliminary decree of the National Convention to lay open our country and its colonies to you, for every purpose of utility, without
EXPOSTULATIONS OF THE PRESIDENT.
your participating the burthens of maintaining and defending them. We see in you, the only person on earth who can love us sincerely, and merit to be so loved.' In short, he offers every thing and asks nothing.”
“Yet I know the offers will be opposed,” adds Jefferson, “and suspect they will not be accepted. In short, my dear sir, it is impossible for you to conceive what is passing in our conclave; and it is evident that one or two, at least, under pretence of avoiding war on the one side, have no great antipathy to run foul of it on the other, and to make a part in the confederacy of princes against human liberty."
The one or two,' in the paragraph above cited, no doubt, imply Hamilton and Knox.
Washington again, in conversation, endeavored to counteract these suspicions which were swaying Jefferson's mind against his contemporaries. We give Jefferson's own account of the conversation. “He (Washington) observed that, if anybody wanted to change the form of our government into a monarchy, he was sure it was only a few individuals, and that no man in the United States would set his face against it, more than himself ; but, that this was not what he was afraid of; his fears were from another quarter ; that there was more danger of anarchy being introduced.'
He then adverted to Freneau's paper and its partisan hostilities. He despised, he said, all personal attacks upon himself, but observed that there never had been an act of the government which that paper had not abused.
“He was evidently sore and warm,” adds Jefferson, "and I took his intention to be, that I should
interpose in some way with Freneau ; perhaps, withdraw his appointment of translating clerk in my office. But I will not do it."
It appears to us rather an ungracious determination on the part of Jefferson, to keep this barking cur in his employ, when he found him so annoying to the chief, whom he professed, and we believe with sincerity, to
Neither are his reasons for so doing satisfactory, savoring, as they do, of those strong political suspicions already noticed.
“ His (Freneau's) paper," observed he, “has saved our constitution, which was galloping fast into monarchy, and has been checked by no means so powerfully as by that paper. It is well and universally known, that it has been that paper which checked the career of the monocrats ; the President, not sensible of the designs of the party, has not, with his usual good sense and sang froid, looked on the efforts and effects of this free press, and seen that, though some bad things have passed through it to the public, yet the good have preponderated immensely.
Jefferson was mistaken. Washington had regarded the efforts and effects of this free press with his usual good sense ; and the injurious influence it exercised in public affairs, was presently manifested in the transactions of the government with Genet. The acts of this diplomatic personage at Charleston, had not been the sole ground of the complaint preferred by the British minister. The capture of the British vessel, the Grange, by the frigate Ambuscade, formed a graver one.
Occurring within our waters, it was a clear usurpation of national sovereignty, and a violation of neutral rights.
* Works, ix. 143.