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There is not a man living who wishes more sincerely than I do to see a plan adopted for the abolition of it. But there is only one proper and effectual mode by which it can be accomplished, and that is, by legislative authority; and this, as far as my suffrage will go, shall never be wanting. I never mean, unless some particular circumstances should com"pel me to it, to possess another slave by purchase, it being among my first wishes to see some plan adopted by which slavery, in this country, may be abolished by law.
VIRTUE AND HAPPINESS.
There is no truth more thoroughly established than that there exists, in the economy and course of nature, an indissoluble union between virtue and happiness, between duty and advantage, between the genuine maxims of an honest and magnanimous policy and the solid rewards of public prosperity and felicity. The consideration that human happiness and moral duty are inseparably connected will always continue to prompt me to promote the progress of the former by inculcating the practice of the latter. Without virtue, and without integrity, the finest talents and the most brilliant accomplishments can never gain the respect, and conciliate the esteem, of the truly valuable part of mankind. . I hope I shall always possess firmness and virtue enough to maintain what I consider the most enviable of all titles, the character of an “honest man.” The private virtues of economy, prudence, and industry are not less amiable, in civil life, than the more splendid qualities of valor, perseverance, and enterprise, in public life.
It will not be doubted that, with reference either to individual or national welfare, agriculture is of primary importance. In proportion as nations advance in population and other circumstances of maturity, this truth becomes more apparent, and renders -the cultivation of the soil more and more an object of public patronage. - The life of the husbandman, of all others, is the most delightful. It is honorable, it is amusing, and, with judicious management, it is profitable. An extensive speculation, a spirit of gambling, or the introduction of any thing which will divert our attention from agriculture, must be extremely prejudicial, if not ruinous, to us.
My first wish is, to see this plague of mankind banished from the earth, and the sons and daughters of this world employed in more pleasing and innocent amusements than in preparing implements, and exercising them, for the destruction of mankind.
For the sake of humanity, it is devoutly to be wished that the manly employment of agriculture, and the humanizing benefit of commerce, would supersede the waste of war and the rage of conquest; that the swords might be turned into ploughshares, the spears into pruning-hooks, and, as the Scriptures express it, “the nations learn war no more.”
OHN ADAMS, 1735–1826.
John ADAMs, the second President of the United States, was born in Braintree, Massachusetts, October 19, 1735. After the usual preparatory studies, he entered Harvard College, and was distinguished in his class for diligence in his studies and for originality and boldness of thought, qualities which shone most conspicuously in his after-life. He graduated in 1755, and began the study of law with James Putnam, at Worcester. In 1764, he married Abigail Smith, daughter of Rev. William Smith, of Weymouth, a lady of an excellent education and of uneommon natural endowments. In 1765, he removed to Boston: his legal practice soon became extensive; and it was soon seen that he was one to whom his fellowcitizens might confidently look as a champion of their rights against the encroachments and assumptions of the Crown. In 1769, he was chairman of the committee appointed by the town of Boston to draw up instructions to their representatives to resist the British encroachments. The next year he was chosen a member of the Legislature from Boston.
In June, 1774, Mr. Adams was elected by the Assembly, together with Thomas Cushing, James Bowdoin, Samuel Adams, and Robert T. Paine, to the first Continental Congress. To his friend Sewall, who endeavored to dissuade him from accepting the appointment, he replied, in his characteristic energy of language, “The die is cast: I have passed the Rubicon: sink or swim, live or die, survive or perish with my country, is my unalterable determination.” He took his seat in Congress, September 5, 1774, and was on the committee which drew up the statement of the rights of the Colonies, and on that which prepared the address to the king. He also attended the next Congress in 1775, and was among the foremost of those who were in favor of independence. On May 6, 1776, he moved to recommend to the Colonies “to adopt such a government as would, in the opinion of the representatives of the people, best conduce to the happiness and safety of their constituents and of America.” This passed, after an earnest debate, on the 15th. On the 7th of June, Richard Henry Lee made the motion, which was seconded by Mr. Adams, “that these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States.” The debate continued to the 10th, and was then postponed to the 1st of July. A committee of five, consisting of Jefferson, Adams, Franklin, Sherman, and Livingston, was appointed to draw up a declaration of independence. At the request of Mr. Adams, the instrument was written by Jefferson, and was adopted, as is known, on the 4th, but not without some strong opposition. The opposing arguments were met by Mr. Adams, in a speech of unrivalled power. Of him Mr. Jefferson said, “The great pillar of support to the declaration of independence, and its ablest advocate and champion on the floor of the House, was John Adams. He was the colossus of that Congress: not graceful, not eloquent, not always fluent in his public addresses, he yet came out with a power, both of thought and expression, which moved his hearers from their seats.” In 1779, he was appointed minister-plenipotentiary to negotiate a peace with Great Britain, and had authority to form a commercial treaty with that nation. lie was associated with Franklin, Jay, and Laurens, and the mission was successful in forming a definite treaty of peace, which was ratified January 14, 1784. He returned to Boston in 1788, after an absence of nine years. Congress had before passed a resolution of thanks for his able and faithful discharge of various important commissions. He was elected the first Vice-President of the United States in 1789, and was re-elected the d term ; luently, he was President of the Senate during the whole of the administration of Washington, whose confidence he enjoyed in the highest degree. Having been elected President to succeed Washington, he entered upon his duties March 4, 1797;' and in 1801 he was succeeded by Mr. Jefferson. After March, 1801, Mr. Adams lived in retirement at Quincy, occupied in agricultural pursuits, though occasionally addressing various communications to the public. In 1820, at the age of 85, he was chosen president of the convention for revising the constitution of Massachusetts, though he did not serve in that capacity. In 1825, he enjoyed the singular happiness of seeing his son, John Quincy Adams, elevated to the office of President of the United States.
* The following admirable letter was addressed by Mrs. Adams to her husband
on his being elected President of the United States:—
And may it prove an auspicious prelude to each ensuing season' You have this day to declare yourself head of a nation. “And now, O Lord, my God, thou hast made thy servant ruler over the people. Give unto him an understanding heart, that he may know how to go out and come in before this great people; that he onay discern between good and bad : for who is able to judge this thy so great a people?” were the words of a royal sovereign; and not less applicable to him who is invested with the chief magistracy of a nation, though he wear not a crown nor the robes of royalty.
My thoughts and my meditations are with you, though personally absent; and my petitions to Heaven are that “the things which make for peace may not be hidden from your eyes.” My feelings are not those of pride or ostentation upon the occasion. They are solemnized by a sense of the obligations, the important trusts and numerous duties, connected with it. That you may be enabled to discharge them with honor to yourself, with justice and impartiality to your country, and with satisfaction to this great people, shall be the daily prayer of your
But he was now drawing near his end. On the morning of the 4th of July, 1826, he was roused by the ringing of bells and the firing of cannon; and when asked if he knew what day it was, he replied, “Oh, yes! it is the glorious Fourth, —God bless it! God bless you all !” In the course of the day he said, “It is a great and glorious day;” and, just before he expired, exclaimed, “Jefferson surwives!”—showing that his thoughts were dwelling on the scenes of 1776. But Jefferson was then dead, having expired at one o'clock; while Mr. Adams lingered till twenty minutes past six P.M.
For purity of character, dauntless courage, and true patriotism, Mr. Adams had no superior among his contemporaries; and his maine will be held in veneration by all coming generations."
MEDITATES THE CHOICE OF HERCULES.”
The other night the choice of Hercules came into my mind, and left impressions there which I hope will never be effaced, nor long unheeded. I thought of writing a fable on the same plan, but accommodated, by omitting some circumstances and inserting others, to my own case.
Let Virtue address me: “Which, dear youth, will you prefer, a life of effeminacy, indolence, and obscurity, or a life of industry, temperance, and honor 7 Take my advice; rise and mount your horse by the morning's dawn, and shake away, amidst the great and beautiful scenes of nature that appear at that time of the day, all the crudities that are left in your stomach, and all the obstructions that are left in your brains. Then return to your studies, and bend your whole soul to the institutes of the law and the reports of cases that have been adjudged by the rules in the institutes; let no trifling diversion, or amusement, or company, decoy you from your book; that is, let no girl, no gun, no cards, no flutes, no violins, no dress, no tobacco, no laziness, decoy you from your books. But keep your law book or some point of law in your mind at least six hours in a day. Labor to get distinct ideas of law, right, wrong, justice, equity; search for them in your own mind, in Roman, Grecian, French, English treatises of natural, civil, common, statute law; aim at an exact knowledge of the nature, end, and means of government; compare the different forms of it with each other, and each of them with their effects on public and private happiness. Study Seneca, Cicero, and all other good moral writers; study Montesquieu, Bolingbroke, Vinnius, &c., and all other good civil writers.”
Here are two nights and one day and a half spent in softening, enervating, dissipating series of hustling, prattling, poetry, love,
1 Read “The Works of John Adams; with a Life of the Author: Notes and Illustrations by his Grandson, Charles Francis Adams,” 10 voluules. * From his Diary, dated Braintree, January 3, 1739.
courtship, marriage; during all this time I was seduced into the course of unmanly pleasures that Vice describes to Hercules, forgetful of the glorious promises of fame, immortality, and a good conscience, which Virtue makes to the same hero as rewards of a hardy, toilsome, watchful life in the service of mankind. I could reflect with more satisfaction on an equal space of time spent in a painful research of the principles of law, or a resolute attempt of the powers of eloquence. But where is my attention? Is it fixed from sunrise to midnight on Grecian, Roman, Gallic, British law, history, virtue, eloquence? I don't see clearly the objects that I am after; they are often out of sight; motes, atoms, feathers, are blown into my eyes and blind me. Who can see distinctly the course he is to take and the objects that he pursues, when in the midst of a whirlwind of dust, straws, atoms, and feathers?
THE FOURTH OF JUI,Y.
Yesterday' the greatest question was decided which ever was debated in America, and a greater, perhaps, never was nor will be decided among men. A resolution was passed, without one dissenting colony, “that these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States, and as such they have, and of right ought to have, full power to make war, conclude peace, establish commerce, and to do all other acts and things which other States may rightfully do.” You will see, in a few days, a Declaration setting forth the causes which have impelled us to this mighty revolution, and the reasons which will justify it in the sight of God and man. A plan of confederation will be taken up in a few days.
When I look back to the year 1761, and recollect the argument concerning writs of assistance in the superior court, which I have hitherto considered as the commencement of this controversy between Great Britain and America, and run through the whole period, from that time to this, and recollect the series of political events, the chain of causes and effects, I am surprised at the suddenness as well as greatness of this revolution. Britain has been filled with folly, and America with wisdom; at least, this is my judgment. Time must determine. It is the will of Heaven that the two countries should be sundered forever. It may be the will of Heaven that America should suffer calamities still more wasting,
1 The practice has been to celebrate the 4th of July, the day upon which she form of the Declaration of Independence was agreed to, rather than the 2d, the day upon which the resolution, making that declaration, was determined upon by the Congress.