« AnteriorContinuar »
It is in the trying circumstances to which your Excellency has been exposed, that the virtues of a great mind are displayed in their brightest lustre, and that a General's character is better known, than in the moment of victory. It was yours, by every title that can give it; and the adverse element which robbed you of your prize, can never deprive you of the glory due to you.
Though your success has not been equal to your expectations, yet you have the satisfaction of reflecting, that you have rendered essential services to the
TRIUMPH OF PRINCIPLE.
In times of turbulence, when the passions are afloat, calm reason is swallowed up, in the extremes to which measures are attempted to be carried; but, when those subside, and its empire is resumed, the man who acts from principle, who pursues the path of truth, moderation, and justice, will regain his influence.
DUTY AND VIRTUE, BEFORE POPULARITY.
Though I prize as I ought the good opinion of my fellow-citizens, yet, if I know myself, I would not seek
Count D'Estaing, the French Admiral, whose fleet had greatly suffered in a storm.
or retain popularity, at the expense of one social duty or moral virtue.
I have happily had but few differences, with those with whom I have the honor of being connected in the service. I bore much, for the sake of peace and the public good. My conscience tells me, that I acted right, in these transactions; and should they ever come to the knowledge of the world, I trust I shall stand acquitted. 1781.
CONSCIOUS INTEGRITY has been my unceasing support; and, while it gave me confidence in the measures I pursued, the belief of it, by acquiring to me the confidence of my fellow-citizens, insured the success which they have had. This consciousness will accompany me in my retirement. retirement. Without it, public applause could be viewed only as a proof of public error, and felt as the upbraiding of personal demerit.
THE GOOD CITIZEN'S TWO-FOLD MOTIVE.
Next to the approbation of my own mind, arising from a consciousness of having uniformly, diligently, and sincerely aimed, by doing my duty, to promote the true interests of my country, the approbation of my
fellow-citizens is dear to my heart. In a free country, such approbation should be a citizen's best reward; and so it would be, if truth and candor were always to estimate the conduct of public men. But the reverse is so often the case, that he who wishes to serve his country, if not influenced by higher motives, runs the risk of being miserably disappointed. Under such discouragements, the good citizen will look beyond the applauses and reproaches of men, and, persevering in his DUTY, stand firm in conscious rectitude, and in the hope of approving Heaven.
DICTATES OF CONSCIENCE.
While I feel the most lively gratitude for the many instances of approbation from my country, I can no otherwise deserve it, than by obeying the dictates of my conscience.
The eyes of Argus are upon me; and no slip will pass unnoticed.
ENMITY AND DETRACTION.
It is a severe tax, which all must pay, who are called to eminent stations of trust, not only to be held
up, as conspicuous marks to the enmity of the public adversaries of their country, but to the malice of secret traitors, and the envious intrigues of false friends and factions.
Among individuals, the most certain way to make a man your enemy, is to tell him you esteem him such. So, with public bodies.
Speak not evil of the absent: it is unjust.
ANTIDOTE TO SLANDERS.
So far as they are aimed at me personally, it is a misconception, if it be supposed I feel the venom of the darts. I have a consolation, which proves an antidote against their utmost malignity, rendering my mind, in the retirement I have long panted after, perfectly tranquil.
Against the malignity of the discontented, the turbulent, and the vicious, no abilities, no exertions, nor the most unshaken integrity, are any safeguard.
It is much easier to avoid disagreements, than to remove discontents.
It is the nature of man, to be displeased with every thing that disappoints a favorite hope or flattering project; and it is the folly of too many of them, to condemn without investigating circumstances.
I have studiously avoided, in all letters intended for the public eye, (I mean for that of Congress,) every expression that could give pain or uneasiness.
I shall observe the same rule, with respect to private letters, further than appears absolutely necessary for the elucidation of facts.
The hints you have communicated from time to time, not only deserve, but do most sincerely and cordially meet with my thanks.
You cannot render a more acceptable service, nor, in my estimation, give a more convincing proof of your
* General Joseph Reed.