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delivered in New York, and his successful advocacy of the Erie Canal, attest the continuance of his public spirit. Occasional journeys, an extensive correspondence, the care of his estate, and a liberal hospitality, agreeably diversified the remainder of his life.
The foresight which seems so natural to enlarged views was a prominent trait in Governeur Morris. His opinions were not the sudden conjectures of a heated fancy, nor the daring speculations of an undisciplined intellect. He looked calmly on a question, espoused a cause with his judgment not less than with his heart, and, having done so, knew how to abide the issue with tranquil manliness. There was nothing fanatical in his sentiments; they were generous, bold, and ardient; but they were also well-considered, reliable, and modified by reason and experience. Accordingly, he looked beyond the limits of party, and disdained the cant of faction ; on broad, solid, and elevated ground he loved to stand and survey his country and the world. To his mental vision, therefore, "coming events cast their shadows before;' for his gaze was not absorbed in the details of adjacent life, but ranged far and wide, quickened by a spirit of enlightened curiosity, and genuine patriotic sympathies.
Many instances might be cited of the prescience of Governeur Morris. His consistent faith in the measures of Washington, and the intelligent support he uniformly yielded him, under all circumstances, was the instinctive adherence of a kindred spirit. Before the Revolution broke out he saw the natural unity of the American States, and advocated a plan for "uniting the whole continent in one grand legislature.” At the very outset of the French Revolution, he anticipated the course of the people, and justly defined the true policy of the court. His letter to Lafayette distinctly presages the result to which he was unconsciously advancing, and breathes the genuine counsel of enlightened affection. One of the first to perceive the necessity of active intercourse between the seaboard and the interior of America, he broached in conversation the idea of the Erie Canal at a time when it was deemed chimerical, steadfastly advocated the project, and greatly contributed to its achievement. The broad avenues which now intersect the metropolis of New York, and constitute
its redeeming feature, were first successfully advocated by Gurerneur Morris.
At a period when the municipal authorities proposed to save the expense
of a marble facing to the back of the City Hall, on the ground that it would never be seen except from the suburbs. unmoved by the sneers of narrow-minded incredulity, he urged that the city should be laid out as far as Haerlem. The present American coinage is based upon his plan, although modified from the original scheme; and he originated the first bank in the country, upon principles the utility of which experience has anply proved. Instead of dating American liberty from the Stamp Act, he traced it to the prosecution of Peter Zenger, a printer in the colony of New York, for an alleged libel; because that event revealed the philosophy of freedom, both of thought and speech. as an inborn human right, so nobly set forth in Milton's treatise on “ Unlicensed Printing." He derived the superiority of American nautical architecture from the Indian canoe - "? its slender and elegant form, its rapid movement, its capacity to bear burdens and resist the rage of the billows and torrents.” His criticism on his own portrait was sagacious: "The head is good," he remarked. “ but the hands and face tell a different story.” It was this habitual reversion to first principles, this testing of every question by the dictates of his own understanding, rather than by the watch words of prejudice, that marked Governeur Morris as a superior man even in an age of great and active intelligence. He
Не was a philosopher rather than a politician.
Averse to the separation of the colonies, except on the principle of self-preservation, he was among the most able champions of conciliatory measures; but, when they proved ineffectual, he engaged with all his mind and will in the struggle for independence - at an almost entire sacrifice of private interest and feeling, being unsustained by his family and some of his earliest friends. Yet he was no undiscriminating republican. In the habits, character, and prospects, of his own countrymen, he recognized a natural aptitude for the form of government under which they have so greatly advanced and prospered ; but in France the case presented itself to his mind in quite a different light; there ha told Lafayette, with prophetic wisdom, that he was “opposed to
democracy from regard to liberty." Upon the same conviction, that the welfare of France was most secure under legitimate monarchical rule, were founded the sentiments of his oration on the return of the Bourbons, yet memorable in New York for the offence it gave to many of his fellow-citizens, and the bold eloquence it developed in the orator. He was equally misjudged for maintaining the expediency of consolidating the public debts after the war a measure regarded with a jealous eye by the ardent upholders of state rights, but one espoused by Governeur Morris, for the sake of the more liberal and wise policy of combining their interests and fostering the new-born and unconfirmed national sentiment. Thus, in all contingencies, he anticipated
. the future greatness of the country to whose welfare the flower of his youth was devoted. He saw the majestic tree in the swell
It was the habit of his mind to elicit the universal from the special, and to seize on the central idea and essential principles, instead of occupying himself with the incidental and temporary. Thus, when the charges against Silas Deane were discussed in Congress, upon the authority of Thomas Paine, Governeur Morris argued for the latter's removal from his office, on the ground that the honor due to the nation's ally was involved, while the incumbent had no social or personal claims, but was an adventurer. This was a statement of the case as it would appear to a European spectator, at a time when few in our country's councils had the perspicacity to take such a view. Personal ill-will, growing out of a newspaper controversy, has, indeed, been charged upon the legislator in this instance; but this does not correspond with the efforts he subsequently made in France for Paine's liberation, when the latter was far more degraded, and in peril of his life.
Although, as we have seen, the views of Governeur Morris were comprehensive, they were also eminently practical. He was one of those efficient philosophers who understand the actual worth of abstract truth, and know intuitively how far it can be applied to human affairs with utility and satisfaction. day there has been exhibited a mischievous fanaticism which advocates the realization of what is abstractly right and true, without any regard to existent circumstances. Similar principles,
carried out by violence, occasioned the most dreadful results of the French Revolution ; and there are always disciples enough of any doctrine, the espousal of which secures notoriety, however obviously detrimental it may be to the welfare of humanity, and the permanent interests of liberty or truth. The practical wisdom of Governeur Morris was early manifested in his financial essays, and appears conspicuously in his revolutionary writings and speeches; it induced him to warn Lafayette of Mirabeau, to suggest the basis of a popular constitution to Louis, and to coöperate with Clinton in his grand plans of internal improvement, upon which rest the prosperity of their native state. Time bas proved the feasibility of his large practical conceptions, political and commercial. His genius for affairs bas seldom been surpassed, and its evidences are yet apparent, though comparatively unacknowledged.
With this breadth of purpose and fertility of thought, there, however, blended a peremptory manner, which sometimes led Governeur Morris to check garrulity with a lofty impatience, and also imparted a somewhat dictatorial tone to his intercourse. With his frankness, too, there was united a certain love of discipline and courtly dignity, that were not always pleasing to the ultra democratic among his countrymen. With the local prejudice and social conformity of New England he had no sympathy, but seems to have inherited the dislike of Yankee customs and modes of feeling, which induced his father to prohibit his children, by will, a New England education. The elements of humanity were liberally dispensed to him. He did not live exclusively in his intellect and public spirit; but was a genuine lover of ease and pleasure, had a natural taste for elegance and luxury, and knew how to enjoy as well as how to worķ. Throughout the most active part of his life, however, he never allowed the one function to infringe upon the other.
It has been justly said of him that “he never shrunk from any task, and never commenced one which he left unfinished." Indeed, his faculty consisted mainly in a rare power of concentration. He could converge the light of his mind and the force of his emotions, at will; and, therefore, whether business or pleasure enlisted him, the result was never equivocal. His moral power was integrity; he was direct, open, sincere, a thorough, uncompromising, and zealous devotee of truth in philosophy, social relations, and life. Hence his courage, self-respect, and simplicity, rendering him altogether a fine specimen of a republican gentleman. His commanding figure, expressive features, and strong, emphatic articulation, combined as they were with superior intellectual gifts, justity Madame de Staël's remark to him: "Monsieur, vous avez l'air tres imposant."
He was equally at home when absorbed in abstruse inquiries and conviviality, amusement and study, utility and agreeableness; and possessed that completeness of nature which is essential to manhood. His generosity was evinced in numerous and unostentatious services to the unfortunate; and his letter to a Tory friend, who desired to return to America, breathes the true spirit of magnanimity. He drafted the Constitution of the United States. Never being solicitous for the credit due to his patriotic labors, many services are claimed in his behalf, by his friends, which nominally belong to those with whom he was associated in public life. He often expressed the conviction that his own mind was more indebted for lucid and reliable principles of judgment and action to Robert H. Morris than to any other friend. Having married a niece of John Randolph, the latter was often his guest, and the keen encounters which would naturally occur between two such emphatic yet opposite characters may readily be imagined.
The manner in which his marriage occurred is an instance of that eccentricity to which we have alluded as indicating the originality and independence which marked his private not less than his public life. He had invited a large number of his relatives to a Christmas dinner, and, having greeted them all with his usual hospitality, left the room, and soon returned with his intended bride, and a clergyman who instantly performed the marriage ceremony, to the astonishment of all the guests, and the disappointment of those among them who expected to inherit the estate.
His behavior when the accident occurred by which he lost his leg was equally characteristic. While in attendance upon Congress, in Philadelphia, his horses having taken fright in conse