Imágenes de páginas

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.



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.


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.


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.

friendship, than by a free, open, and undisguised account of every matter relative to myself or conduct.


I can bear to hear of imputed or real errors. man who wishes to stand well in the opinion of others, must do this, because he is thereby enabled to correct his faults, or remove prejudices which are imbibed against him. For this reason, I shall thank you for giving me the opinions of the world, upon such points as you know me to be interested in.

As I have but one capital object in view, I could wish to make my conduct coincide with the wishes of mankind, as far as I can consistently. I mean, without departing from that great line of duty, which, though hid under a cloud for some time, from a peculiarity of circumstances, may nevertheless bear a scrutiny.

Jan. 1776.


Nothing would give me more real satisfaction, than to know the sentiments which are entertained of me by the public, whether they be favorable or otherwise.

The man who wishes to steer clear of shelves and rocks, must know where they lie.

I know, (but to declare it, unless to a friend, may be an argument of vanity,) the integrity of my own heart. I know the unhappy predicament I stand in.

I know, that

I know, that much is expected of me. without men, without arms, without any thing fit for the accommodation of a soldier, little is to be done; and, (which is mortifying,) I know, that I cannot stand justified to the world, without exposing my own weakness, and injuring the cause by declaring my wants, which I am determined not to do, further than unavoidable necessity brings every man acquainted with them.

If, under these circumstances, I am able to keep above water, as it were, in the esteem of mankind, I shall feel myself happy. But if, from the unknown peculiarity of my circumstances, I suffer in the opinion of the world, I shall not think you take the freedom of a friend, if you conceal the reflections that may be cast upon my conduct.

My own situation feels so irksome to me at times, that if I did not consult the public good more than my own tranquillity, I should, long ere this, have put every thing to the cast of a die. Feb., 1776.


To persevere in one's duty and be silent, is the best answer to calumny.

* General Joseph Reed.

« AnteriorContinuar »