« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »
ing the lives of his fellow-citizens in a time of dreadful calamity-It is then fair and necessary to inquire, what was the conduct of Dr. Rush during that calumity—has it merited reproach or applause—if the former the offence of W. C. is extenuated; if the latter it is aggravated beyond all example.
Dr. Rush's reputation is not confined to the narrow circle of his patients, nor his applause to the clamours of old women and nurses. His fame has spread as extensively as our commerce. He has added a fresh and blooming laurel to the head of American genius-he has done much to rescue the American name from obloquy and contempt, which some of the proud philosophers of Europe would cast upon us, ranking us as inferior to themselves in the order of beings. From the East Indies and from the West--from almost every part of Europe, he has received honours and compliments; and we are different from all the people on the face of the earth, if these honours reflect not some pride and some pleasure into our breasts. This participation in the honours and fame of our countrymen is coeval with the existence of the passions of men, and he that does not feel it, must want a social temper and the true spirit of patriotism. Nor has the private character and deportment of Dr. Rush forfeited that esteem which his public services and fame should command. Where is the man whose dispositions are more mild, whose temper is less virulent, whose affections more warm and sincere. From my soul I believe him to be among the most unoffending and most benevolent of mankind; so that in the wide range of creation you cannot find two beings more unlike each other that Dr. Benjamin Rush and William Cobbett. Even when, day after day, this vile source of falsehood and pollution, vomited forth the blackest venom of slander upon
he stood like a suffering martyr, and dipped not his pen in the gall of controversy. it is known that Dr. Rush can write-his pen has often been drawn in the service of his country, never to black. en the name of his neighbour or wound the feelings of innocence. He did not even wipe away by contradiction the filth with which he was covered ; determined that the
hands of his country alone shall either cleanse him from these foul aspersions, or sink him deeper in disgrace.
When pestilence and death, walking hand in hand, swept away the people of Athens with the besom of destruction, the immortal Hippocrates threw himself undaunted into the midst of the danger, and endured the extremes of fatigue and distress to assist and deliver his perishing fellow-citizens. How like this was the conduct of Dr. Rush in the memorable and dreadful year of 1793? He then stood foremost and almost alone to encounter and arrest the ravages of death. Hundreds of our fellow-citizens, sinking under the unparalleled calamities of poverty and disease, sought relief as well from the Christian charity and benevolence of his heart, as from the powerful application of his skill. If there be any who sought his attention in vain; if there be any who were repelled with unfeeling insolence or mortifying neglect, let them declare it. For those who received from him the relief they sought, we ask them not to speak-it is not the applause of men, or the tears of the grateful, that he requires. The voice of conscience speaks a louder tone of applause, which the approbation of his God will render eternal. But, gentlemen, let us not forget the days of difficulty and distress; they have returned, and may return again, and utter dreadful reproach to the ungrateful. This flourishing city, where health, business and pleasure gave joy to every heart, and ornamented every countenance, became at once silent as a wilderness, the solemn, the joyless habitation of disease and death ; no longer the noise of business was heard through our streets, or the sprightly notes of mirth ; but the dull sounds of the heavy hearse, and the lamentations of the wretched, struck an uneasy terror into the soul, “making night hideous." The day and the night were now the
The rising sun brought no joy to the afflicted, nor night its usual rest; all was sadness, ruin and despair ; commerce bent her sails for happier ports ; your ware-houses no longer received nor distributed the wealth of nations; the temples of God were closed, and it was dangerous to meet together, even to implore from Divine mercy, an issue of our sufferings. WHERE THEN WAS DR. Rush? Where was this man, and How WAS HE EMPLOYED, who has been treated as a very cut-throat, or a worthless and abandoned vagabond, who disgraces the community which tolerates his existence? Need I tell you where he was-God forbid that you should have forgotten-separated from a large and an amiable family, and exposed daily to a separation from them for ever, he seemed at once to have forgotten the husband, the father, and all those tender ties and exquisite sensibilities which form the happiness of such a man, and to have contemplated himself only as a citizen of Philadelphia. He seems to have lost sight of the duties he owes to his family, and to have been devoted to the more Godlike duties he owes to his country.
Twice he found himself languishing on the bed of sickness, and gasping at the gates of death, distant from his family, and almost deserted by every friend-scarcely had he recovered strength to move, when he resumed his dangerous duties; and often did he totter into the infect. ed chambers of the sick, when he could not ascend to them without stopping to recover his exhausted strength. It was for the poor and helpless too, that he thus exposed himself to destruction-the rich had generally fled. How like is this to the conduct of Hippocrates--I wish I could say, how like is Philadelphia to Athens. Athens heaped honours and wealth on her physician and his posterity; but contumely and defamation have been the reward of ours.
What are the rewards that Dr. Rush is justly entitled to, ought not, perhaps, to be decided by his friends or enemies; but nearly all must agree that he has not deserved the treatment he has received from William Cobbett. It has been strangely suggested by some, (for this suit has been a subject of pretty general conversation and concern that Dr. Rush's character is too well known and established to be injured by the ato tacks of Cobbett; who is not worth his serious attention, and therefore he should recover no damages in this action. I am sure I think as highly of Dr. Rush as any
of those who would in this manner palliate the conduct of Cobbett, or weaken the claims of the plaintiff to redress. But, gentlemen, there are few characters so pure and so impenetrable as to receive the constant, unceasing attack of malicious slander, exerted in every possible form, and
to every possible point, without stain or injury. Of a physician this is most emphatically nice. His reputation is a fabric delicate as air, the slightest gust of popular prejudice or caprice dissipates it, even suspicion destroys it ; if he is distrusted he is ruined. This notion that the purity of the object attacked is to justify or lessen the crime of the assailant, is quite novel in morals and in law. Is the virtue of the injured to be the defence of the injurer ? Should it not rather be the protection of the just? Have you a daughter of spotless virtue and discretion? Is it then no offence to proclaim her a prostitute?
Are you unquestionably upright and honest ? Is it therefore no offence to publish you a swindler and a thief, while the real prostitute and the convicted thief would be entitled to exemplary damages? Why gentlemen, doctrines of this sort are so absurd, so repugnant to every sentiment of justice and propriety, that the honest heart shrinks from them as from its bane. Let us see to what they would lead us. To slander a man is simply no offence ; to vilify a man pre-eminently wise and useful, is something better than merely an offence; and to blaspheme the all pure and perfect God must be highly meritorious. But to return to Dr. Rush's ability to withstand the blows that have been aimed at him : It is not, gentlemen, this single paragraph, or that one, that carries with it the deadly weight, and brings the intended victim to the ground. It is a regular concerted system of defamation, an uninterrupted and persevering attack of calumny and scurrility, in every form which they can assume. Sometimes it is made under some dark, mysterious paragraph, and sometimes in the open language of denunciation. Now fear is alarmed with a bold assurance of danger, and now ridicule is exacted by the point of a jest. Thus a net is thrown out for every weakness, passion or prejudice that is afloat in the community, and few escape the entanglement. This, gentlemen, is what scribblers call writing a man down, and is a most abominable species of assassination.
Continuation of Mr. Hopkinson's defence of Dr. Rush,
in the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania. FROM what motive or inducement has William Cobbett made his flagitious attack upon Dr. Rush? Was it a desire to inform the public mind? The nature of the publications shew this was not the case. They do not consist of any examination of the system and principles of Dr. Rush's practice, but merely of violent and low personal abuse. But, gentlemen, although the entire want of every thing like a just cause of attack on Dr. Rush would justify us and you in ascribing a base one to it, yet we shall not rely even on this legal and reasonable presumption. We shall be able, by the light of living testimony, to trace the low malice of the defendant to its true source. We shall trace it to personal hatred, grounded on political prejudice. You may remember, that some time past an eulogium was delivered by the appointment and direction of the Philosophical Society, on the late Da. vid Rittenhouse; that this eulogium was delivered by Dr. Rush. Here then, originated the first excitement of resentment in the mind of Cobbett against Dr. Rush. We shall shew you, as I am instructed, that from that moment he determined on the attack. Long he waited for an opportunity to gratify this grovelling resentment, and discharge the venom that rankled in his heart.
From the testimony of a respectable witness, we shall also shew you that the defendant did not himself pretend that his attack on Dr. Rush was commenced with a view to give useful information to the public, on an interesting question, to correct any errors in Dr. Rush's system or treatment of his patients, or dispense any public benefit whatever; but that he avowed it to be personal against the Dr. and not against his system, that he avowed his ignoránce whether the system was right or wrong, and declared he should have said nothing about it, had any other man than Dr. Rush brought it forward. Where then, can be the defence, where the justification, where the apology for the infamous slanders he has heaped upon a worthy and honourable citizen? Does he not stand