Essays on Actions and Events, Oxford ..

Here is an impatience and fastidiousness at color or pretense of any kind. He has been in courts so long as to have conceived a furious disgust at appearances; he will indulge himself with a little cursing and swearing; he will talk with sailors and gypsies, use flash and street ballads; he has stayed indoors till he is deadly sick; he will to the open air, though it rain bullets. He has seen too much of gentlemen of the long robe, until he wishes for cannibals; and is so nervous, by factitious life, that he thinks, the more barbarous man is, the better he is. He likes his saddle. You may read theology, and grammar, and metaphysics elsewhere. Whatever you get here, shall smack of the earth and of real life, sweet, or smart, or stinging. He makes no hesitation to entertain you with the records of his disease; and his journey to Italy is quite full of that matter. He took and kept this position of equilibrium. Over his name, he drew an emblematic pair of scales, and wrote, Que sais-je? under it. As I look at his effigy opposite the title-page, I seem to hear him say, “You may play old Poz, if you will; you may rail and exaggerate,—I stand here for truth, and will not, for all the states, and churches, and revenues, and personal reputations of Europe, overstate the dry fact, as I see it; I will rather mumble and prose about what I certainly know,—my house and barns; my father, my wife, and my tenants; my old lean bald pate; my knives and forks; what meats I eat, and what drinks I prefer; and a hundred straws just as ridiculous,—than I will write, with a fine crow-quill, a fine romance. I like gray days, and autumn and winter weather. I am gray and autumnal myself, and think an undress, and old shoes that do not pinch my feet, and old friends who do not constrain me, and plain topics where I do not need to strain myself and pump my brains, the most suitable. Our condition as men is risky and ticklish enough. One cannot be sure of himself and his fortune an hour, but he may be whisked off into some pitiable or ridiculous plight. Why should I vapor and play the philosopher, instead of ballasting, the best I can, this dancing balloon? So, at least, I live within compass, keep myself ready for action, and can shoot the gulf, at last, with decency. If there be anything farcical in such a life, the blame is not mine; let it lie at fate’s and nature’s door.”

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Essays on actions and events oxford clarendon press - essay-

A fondness for power is implanted in most men, and it is natural to abuse it when acquired. This maxim, drawn from the experience of all ages, makes it the height of folly to intrust any set of men with power which is not under every possible control; perpetual strides are made after more as long as there is any part withheld. We ought not, therefore, to concede any greater authority to the British Parliament than is absolutely necessary. There seems to be a necessity for vesting the regulation of our trade because in time our commercial interests might otherwise interfere with hers. But with respect to making laws for us, there is not the least necessity, or even propriety, in it. Our Legislatures are confined to ourselves, and cannot interfere with Great Britain. We are best acquainted with our own circumstances, and therefore best qualified to make suitable regulations. It is of no force to object that no particular colony has power to enact general laws for all the colonies. There is no need of such general laws. Let every colony attend to its own internal police, and all will be well. How have we managed heretofore? The Parliament has made no general laws for our good, and yet our affairs have been conducted much to our ease and satisfaction. If any discord has sprung up among us, it is wholly imputable to the incursions of Great Britain. We should be peaceable and happy, if unmolested by her. We are not so destitute of wisdom as to be in want of her assistance to devise proper and salutary laws for us.

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I am solicited to write the affairs of my own time by some, who fancy I look upon them with an eye less blinded with passion than another, and have a clearer insight into them by reason of the free access fortune has given me to the heads of various factions; but they do not consider, that to purchase the glory of Sallust, I would not give myself the trouble, sworn enemy as I am to obligation, assiduity, or perseverance: that there is nothing so contrary to my style, as a continued narrative, I so often interrupt and cut myself short in my writing for want of breath; I have neither composition nor explanation worth anything, and am ignorant, beyond a child, of the phrases and even the very words proper to express the most common things; and for that reason it is, that I have undertaken to say only what I can say, and have accommodated my subject to my strength. Should I take one to be my guide, peradventure I should not be able to keep pace with him; and in the freedom of my liberty might deliver judgments, which upon better thoughts, and according to reason, would be illegitimate and punishable. Plutarch would say of what he has delivered to us, that it is the work of others: that his examples are all and everywhere exactly true: that they are useful to posterity, and are presented with a lustre that will light us the way to virtue, is his own work. It is not of so dangerous consequence, as in a medicinal drug, whether an old story be so or so.

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It sometimes happens that a temporary caprice of the people leads them to make choice of men whom they neither love nor respect; and that they afterward, from an indolent and mechanical habit natural to the human mind, continue their confidence and support merely because they had once conferred them. I cannot persuade myself that your influence rests upon a better foundation, and I think the finishing touch you have given to the profligacy of your character must rouse the recollection of the people, and force them to strip you of a dignity which sets so awkwardly upon you, and consign you to that disgrace which is due to a scandalous perversion of your trust. When you resolved to avail yourself of the extraordinary demand for the article of flour which the wants of the French fleet must produce, and which your official situation early impressed on your attention, to form connections for monopolizing that article, and raising the price upon the public more than one hundred per cent.; when by your intrigues and studied delays you protracted the determination of the C——tt——e of C——ss on the proposals made by Mr. W——sw——th, C——ss——y G——n——l, for procuring the necessary supplies for the public use, to give your agents time to complete their purchases; I say when you were doing all this, and engaging in a traffic infamous in itself, repugnant to your station, and ruinous to your country, did you pause and allow yourself a moment’s reflection on the consequences? Were you infatuated enough to imagine you would be able to conceal the part you were acting? Or had you conceived a thorough contempt of reputation, and a total indifference to the opinion of the world? Enveloped in the promised gratifications of your avarice, you probably forgot to consult your understanding, and lost sight of every consideration that ought to have regulated the man, the citizen, the statesman.

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In February of 1781 he abruptly left Washington’s staff in a fit of pique to seek a battlefield command. He acquitted himself bravely at the Battle of Yorktown, left the army, and began legal studies. With blinding speed, after a mere three months’ preparation, he passed the New York Bar exams. By 1782, Hamilton was a practicing lawyer, and was tapped by the New York legislature to serve as a delegate to the Congress. During his months in Congress Hamilton was at the forefront of the struggle to vest the government with an import tax, but the plan was defeated by the opposition of Rhode Island and Virginia. Congress’s inability to secure permanent revenues led disgruntled army officers in Newburgh, New York, into a conspiracy to threaten mutiny to force payment of back pay. Although Washington defused that crisis in March 1783, by June angry soldiers surrounded Congress in Philadelphia, demanding back pay. Hamilton and the rest of Congress were forced to retreat to Princeton, New Jersey, when the Pennsylvania assembly refused to use the militia to disperse the soldiers. Soon thereafter, Hamilton quit Congress in disgust, to return to the practice of law in New York.

Essays on Actions and Events

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It bestows on him “all the country of Maryland, and the islands adjacent, together with all their commodities, etc., etc., of what kinds soever, as well by sea as land; and constitutes him, his heirs and assigns, true and absolute lords and proprietaries of the said country, and of all the premises aforesaid, saving always the faith and allegiance and the sovereign dominion, due to his heirs and successors,—to be holden of the Kings of England, in free and common soccage, by and not paying two Indian arrows every year, and also the fifth part of all gold and silver ore which shall from time to time happen to be found: Granting also full and absolute power to the said Lord Baltimore, his heirs, etc., to ordain, make, enact, and publish and the and of the of the said province, or the greater part of them, or of or for the enacting of the said laws, when, and as often as need shall require, we will, that the said now Lord Baltimore, and his heirs, shall assemble in such sort and form as to him and shall seem best. Provided, nevertheless, that the said laws be consonant to reason, and be not repugnant, or contrary, but, agreeable to the laws, statutes, and rights of this our kingdom of England.”