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Chap. n. of it) the blame will in all probability be laid on 1789. the system itself. And the framers of it will have to encounter the disrepute of having brought about a revolution in government, without substituting anything that was worthy of the effort... they pulled down one utopid, it will be said, to build up another. This view of the subject, if I mistake not, my dear sir, will suggest to your mind greater hazard to that fame, which must be, and ought to be dear to you, in refusing your future aid to the system, than in affording it. I will only add, that in my estimate of the matter, that aid is indispensable.
"I have taken the liberty to express these sentiments and to lay before you my view of the subject. I doubt not the considerations mentioned have fully occurred to you, and I trust they will finally produce in your mind the same result which exists in mine. I flatter myself the frankness with which I have delivered myself, will not be displeasing to you. It has been prompted by motives which you would not disapprove."
In answer to this letter general Washington opened himself without reserve. "In acknowledging," said he, ' the receipt of your candid and kind letter by the last post, little more is incumbent on me than to thank you sincerely for the frankness with which you communicated your sentiments, and to assure you that the same manly tone of intercourse will always be more than barely welcome;..,indeed it will be highly acceptable to me.
"I am particularly glad, in the present instance, Chap.h. that you have dealt thus freely and like a friend. 1789. Although I could not help observing from several publications and letters that my name had been sometimes spoken of, and that it was possible the contingency which is the subject of your letter might happen, yet I thought it best to maintain a guarded silence, and to lack the counsel of my best friends (which I certainly hold in the highest estimation) rather than to hazard an imputation unfriendly to the delicacy of my feelings. For, situated as I am, I could hardly bring the question into the slightest discussion, or ask an opinion even in the most confidential manner, without betraying in my judgment, some impropriety of conduct, or without feeling an apprehension that a premature display of anxiety, might be construed into a vain glorious desire of pushing myself into notice as a candidate. Now if I am not grossly deceived in myself, I should un- feignedly rejoice, in case the electors, by giving their votes in favour of some other person, would save me from the dreadful dilemma of being forced to accept or refuse. If that may not be, I am in the next place, earnestly desirous of searching out the truth, and of knowing whether there does not exist a probability that the government would be just as happily and effectually carried into execution without my aid, as with it. I am truly solicitous to obtain all the previous information which the circumstances will afford, and to determine (when the determination can with propriety be no longer postponed) according
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Chap. H. to the principles of right reason, and the dictates 1789. of a clear conscience; without too great a reference to the unforeseen consequences which may affect my person or reputation. Until that period, I may fairly hold myself open to conviction, though I allow your sentiments to have weight in them; and I shall not pass by your arguments without giving them as dispassionate a consideration as I can possibly bestow upon them.
"In taking a survey of the subject, in whatever point of light I have been able to place it, I will not suppress the acknowledgment, my dear sir, that I have always felt a kind of gloom upon my mind, as often as I have been taught to expect, I might, and perhaps must ere long be called to make a decision. You will, I am well assured, believe the assertion (though I have little expectation it would gain credit from those who are less acquainted with me) that if I should receive the appointment, and should be prevailed upon to accept it; the acceptance would be attended with more diffidence and reluctance, than ever I experienced before in my life. It would be, however, with a fixed and sole determination of lending whatever assistance might be in my power to promote the public weal, in hopes that at a convenient and an early period, my services might be dispensed with; and that I might be permitted once more to retire...to pass an unclouded evening after the stormy day of life, in the bosom of domestic tranquillity."
This correspondence was thus closed by colonel Hamilton. "I feel a conviction that you will finally see your acceptance to be indispensable, Chap. U. It is no compliment to say that no other man can 1789^ sufficiently unite the public opinion, or can give the requisite weight to the office, in the commencement of the government. These considerations appear to me of themselves decisive. I am not sure that your refusal would not throw every thing into confusion. I am sure that it would have the worst effect imaginable.
"Indeed, as I hinted in a former letter, I think circumstances leave no option."
Although this correspondence does not appear to have absolutely decided general Washington on the part he should embrace, it could not have been without its influence on his judgment, nor have failed to dispose him to yield to the wish of his country. "I would willingly" said he to his estimable friend general Lincoln, who had also pressed the subject on him, "pass over in silence that part of your letter, in which you mention the persons who are candidates for the two first offices in the executive, if I did not fear the omission might seem to betray a want of confidence. Motives of delicacy have prevented me hitherto from conversing or writing on this subject, whenever I could avoid it with decency. I may, however, with great sincerity, and I believe without offending against modesty or propriety, say to you, that I most heartily wish the choice to which you allude might not fall upon me: and that if it should, I must reserve to myself the right of making up my final decision, at the last moment, when it can be brought into one view,
Chap.ii. and when the expediency or inexpediency of a 1789. refusal can be more judiciously determined than at present. But be assured, my dear sir, if from any inducement I shall be persuaded ultimately to accept, it will not be (so far as I know my own heart) from any of a private or personal nature. Every personal consideration conspires, to rivit me (if I may use the expression) to retirement. At my time of life, and under my circumstances, nothing in this world can ever draw me from it, unless it be a conviction that the partiality of my countrymen had made my services absolutely necessary, joined to a fear that my refusal might induce a belief that I preferred the conservation of my own reputation and private ease, to the good of my country. After all, if I should conceive myself in a manner constrained to accept, I call heaven to witness, that this very act would be the greatest sacrifice of my personal feelings and wishes, that ever I have been called upon to make. It would be to forego repose and domestic enjoyment for trouble, perhaps for public obloquy: for I should consider myself as entering upon an unexplored field, enveloped on every side with clouds and darkness.
"From this embarrassing situation I had naturally supposed that my declarations at the close of the war would have saved me; and that my sincere intentions, then publicly made known, would have effectually precluded me forever afterwards from being looked upon as a candidate for any office. This hope, as a last anchor pf