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serupulously respected; when belligerent nations, under the impossibility of making acquisitions upon us, will not lightly hazard the giving us provocation ; when we may choose peace or war, as our interest, guided by justice, shail counsel.
Why forego the advantages of so peculiar a situation ? Why quit our own to stand upon foreign ground? Why, by interweaving our destiny with that of any part of Europe, entangle our peace and prosperity in the toils of European ambition, rivalship, interest, humour, or caprice?
'Tis our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliances, with any portion of the foreign world : so far, I mean, as we are now at liberty to do it : for let me not be understood as capable of patronizing infidelity to existing engagements. I hold the maxim no less applicable to public than private affairs, that honesty is always the best policy. I repeat it, therefore, let those engagements be observed in their genuine'sense. But, in my opinion, it is unnecessary, and would be unwise, to extend them,
Taking care always to keep ourselves, by suitable establishments, on a respectable defensive posture, we may. safely trust to temporary alliances for extraordinary emergencies.
Harmony and liberal intercourse with all nations, are recommended by policy, humanity and interest. But even Our commercial policy should hold an equal and impara tial hand; neither seeking nor granting exclusive favours or preferences ; consulting the natural course of things ; diffusing and diversifying: by gentle means, the streams of commerce, but forcing nothing; establishing, with powers so disposed, in order to give trade a stable course, to define the rights of our merchants, and to enable the government to support them ; conventional rules of intercourse, the best that present circumstances and mutual opinion will permit, but temporary, and liable to be from time to time abandoned or varied, as experience, and circumstances shall dictate ; constantly keeping in view, that 'tis folly in one nation to look for disinterested favours from another; that it must pay with a portion of its independence, for whatever it may accept under that character : that by such acceptance, it may place itself in the condiVOL. II.
tion of having giren equivalents for nominal favours, and yet of being reproached with ingratitude for not giving more. There can be no greater error than to expect, or calculate upon real favours from nation to nation. 'Tis an illusion which experience must cure, which a just pride ought to discard.
In offering to you, my countrymen, these counsels of an old and affectionate friend, I dare not hope they will make the strong and lasting impression I could wish; that they will controu! the usual current of the passions, or prevent our nation from running the course which has hitherto marked the destiny of nations : But, if I may even fatter myself, that they may be productive of some partial benefit, some occasional good; that they may now, and then recur to them, to moderate the fury of party,spirit, to warn against the mischiefs of foreign intrigue, to guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism; this hope will be a full recompense for the solicitude of your wel. fare, by which they have been dictated.
How far in the discharge of my official duties, I have been guided by the principles that have been delineated, the public records and other evidences of my conduct must witness to you and to the world. To myself, the assurance of my own conscience is, that I have at least believed myself to be guided by them.
In relation to the still subsisting war in Europe, my proclamation of the twenty-second of April, 1793, is the index to my plan. Sanctioned by your approving voice, and by that of your Representatives in both Houses of Congress, the spirit of that measure has continually governed me , uninfluenced by any attempts to deter or divert me from it.
After deliberate examination, which the aid of the best lights I could obtain, I was well satisfied that our country, under all the circumstances of the case, had a right to take, and was bound in duty and interest, to take a neutral position. Having taken it, I determined, as far as should depend upon me, to maintain it, with moderation, perse. verance, and firmness.
The considerations with respect the right to hold this conduct, it is not necessary on this occasion to detail. I will only observe, that according to my understanding of 1 the matter, that right, so far from being denied by any of the belligerent powers, has been virtually admitted by all,
The duty of holding a neutral conduct may be inferred, without any thing more, from the obligations which justice and humanity impose on every nation, in cases in which it is free to act, to maintain inviolate the relations of peace and amity, towards other nations.
The inducements of interest for observing that conduct, will best be referred to your own reflections and experience. With me, a predominant motive has been to endeavour to gain time to our country, to settle and mature its yet recent institutions, and to progress without interruption, to that degree of strength and consistency, which is necessary to give it, humanly speaking, the command of its own fortunes.
Though in reviewing the incidents of my administration, I am unconscious of intentional error : I am, nevertheless, too sensible of my defects not to think it probable that I may have committed many errors. Whatever they may be, I fervently beseech the Almighty to avert or mitigate the evils to which they may tend. I shall also carry with me the hope that my country will never cease to view them with indulgence ; and that after forty-five years of my life dedicated to its service, with an upright zeal, the faults of incompetent abilities will be consigned to oblivion, as myself must soon be to the mansions of rest.
Relying on its kindness in this, as in other things, and actuated by that fervent love towards it, which is so natural to a man, who views in it the natural soil of himself and his progenitors for several generations ; I anticipate with pleasing expectation, that retreat, in which I promise myself to realize, without alloy, the sweet enjoyment of partaking, in the midst of my fellow-cilizens, the benign influence of good laws under a free government; the ever favorite object of my heart, and the happy reward, as I trust, of our mutual cares, labours and dangers.”
He resigned with pleasure, the seat he had filled with so much honour and applause, to his successor, and retired to his Farm at Mount Vernon, where he remained tranquiliy, in possession of those rural delights which were most congenial to his natural inclination.
While he was thus peacefully enjoying the evening of: life, he was again supplicated to assist his country. The insults and aggressions received from France, threatened an appeal to arms. All eyes were open to the late commander in chief, as the only person that ought to be trusied with the command of the army. He felt himself implicated as an American, in the national honour, and accepted of the important charge.
This was the last official act, of this Father of his country. On the fourteenth of December, 1799, he departed this life, at his seat at Mount Vernon, in the sixty-eiginth year of his age, after having reaped a full harvest of glory.
General Washington was about six feet in height, his eyes were grey, but full of animation : his countenance serene and expressive, not disposed to the frequent indulgence of mirth : his limbs muscular and weli proportioned. Majestic and solemn in his deportment. It has been asserted, that he was never seen to smile during the levolutionary war. He generally expressed himself with perspicuity and diffidence, but seldom used more words than were necessary for the elucidating of his opinion. He had the urbanity of a gentleman, without the pageantry of pride ; he qualified denials in so kind a manner, that a disappointment carried no sting along with it. Such was the great Washington! Where will America find his equal ?
· THE END.