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may serve to check the advances of tyranny and usurpation, and be a foundation for bringing tyrants and usurpers to account; but what is the natural tendency of things? All beasts are equally free and independent; so are birds and fishes: and yet do we not see in fact that the wolf devours the lanjb, the vulture the dove, and the whale will swallow a whole shoal of mackerel? And is there not as much inequality among men? Will there not be a superiority and an inferiority, in spite of all the systems of metaphysics and bills of rights in the world? How can you prevent one man from being stronger, or wiser, or richer than another? And will not the strong always subdue the weak, the wise circumvent the ignorant, and the "borrower be servant to the lender "? Is not this noble creature, man, necessarily subject to lords of his own species in almost every stage of his existence? When a child, he is necessarily under the dominion of his parents; send him to school, place him out as an apprentice, put him on board a ship or into a military company, and he must be subject to the commands of his superiors, and to laws which he had no hand in framing. Consider him as a member of public society, and what chance have the greater part of the species of having any voice, or share, or concern in any department of government, or what do they care about it? If once in a year they can put in a vote (perhaps handed to them ready written), or once in three years are put on the jury, 'tis all they can expect, and more than most of them wish for; and, if they had never been used to these privileges, they might be as happy without them as they now are by the abuse of them. In short, take man as he is, if there be not some government framed and provided for him, and kept up over him, he will be a miserable creature. This is not an airy speculation. I have seen it realized. I have seen men so inattentive to their acknowledged rights that, when they have been called upon for their votes for a form of government for themselves and their posterity, not one of them in ten cared so much about it as to give their vote pro or con: a few busy men did all that was or could be done, and the rest acquiesced.
Now, if there is in fact such an inequality among us, why all this pother about reducing every thing to equality by metaphysical rules? If Providence has placed us in a mountainous country, why should we reduce it to a plain? Let it stand as a principle that government originates from the people; but let the people be taught (and they will learn it by experience, if no other way) that they are not able to govern themselves. Let us take care to improve the advantages arising from our situation, and not miscall those inequalities which necessarily spring upamong us by the name of disadvantages. Let literature be duly cultivated, and liberty will not be in danger without sufficient sentinels to give the alarm. Should even a limited monarchy be erected, our liberties may be as safe as if every man had the keeping of them solely in his own power.
But I have done, and I believe you will think it is time.
Adieu, my friend, and believe me ever yours, .
HAZARD TO BELKNAP.
Philadelphia, March 15, 1784.
My Dear Sir, — I have this day received your favr of 26th ult.
You ask me," Could a man be a member of a synod without subscribing formularies?" I believe not. It would be expected that he should at least declare his assent to the doctrines contained in the " Westminster Confession of Faith," larger and shorter catechisms. If you are acquainted with that book, you will be able to judge whether you
could subscribe to the Articles of Faith and mode of Church Government contained in it. Perhaps I conveyed a* wrong idea by the phrase "honorary member." I did not mean by it a philosophical drone, but intended to intimate to you that, as you lived at a distance from this* city, the annual payment of 10s. would not be expected. I knew you had a philosophical turn, and was confident that the activity of your mind would produce something that would be entertaining and useful, and therefore proposed you as a member of the Society. You need not fear to submit your speculations to their investigation, as you would be convinced, could you attend a few meetings; and the youth of the Society makes it easy to add *to the stock of their Transactions. Your sending your sketch of the Natural History of New Hampshire, should it even be published, need not prevent it being printed in your History; for, as it will be your own, you cannot be accused of plagiarism, in case of a republication. As our river now begins to open, I hope it will not be long before I shall be able to send you Garcilasso de la Vega, accompanied by two copies of Blair's Lectures, one of which Mr. Aitken tells me he intends as a present to you, and the other to your Social Library. I think you will be much pleased with this performance, which contains an amazing fund of entertainment for a literary genius. You need not take the newspaper information of your election into the Society "for sufficient," but wait for a line from one of the Secretaries. There has been a fourth volume of Transactions published, from which the Society derived great reputation; but I believe they are now out of print, as the booksellers say. I met with one once at an auction. I think there are no rules with which you need be made acquainted;' and, as to observations and enquiries, every member is at liberty to conduct them in what manner he pleases. Although the plated iron stoves cost less money, they
are dearer than the cast, because they soon burn out; i.e., the sheet iron is soon destroyed by fire.
I think it probable that the Tories have supposed in their hearts that the destruction of the Triumphal Arch was ominous. But as in case of the Phoenix, so in this. A new one is to rise from the ashes, for we have been lately informed that the paintings are nearly finished.
My opinion of the durability of our government coincides exactly with your own. There is too much jealousy of Congress: their power is too much restricted, and local prejudices and attachments are too prevalent.
Are there any persons among you foolish enough to attach themselves to the Shakers? They must be more governed by the flesh than the spirit. Let them alone. Opposition will serve only to encrease their numbers.
Josey has gone to an evening school 'til now: the nights have grown so short that the master has left off teaching 'til next winter. Mr. A. now intends sending your son to day-school.
The printing of Blair has been the only obstacle in the way of your History; and, to enable him to finish it, Mr. A. was obliged to use your paper, as the severity of the season was such as to prevent any being made then. This will not finally delay your work, because he could not begin upon it before his own was finished; and, had he been obliged to wait 'til paper could be made, Blair would have been unfinished yet. I blame him for not asking my consent about it, but I suppose he depended upon having paper to supply us long before now, which he would have had in any common season. We expect to be supplied in the course of this week.
I spend my evenings now in revising your manuscript, in which I find some few inaccuracies, such as the too frequent repetition of which, hut, &c, at too small distances. When I meet with such, I correct them, and in short, upon all occasions, shall use the liberty you.gave me of acting the part of a severe friend with respect to this publication. Your account of Burdet reminded me of some extracts I had made from the Province of Main Records about him, and inserted in my collection of miscellanea curiosa. They are rather indecent, but one of them has enabled me to confirm your assertions by adding the following note: "The Court Records mention him as 'a man of ill-name and fame, and infamous for incontinency., " — Lib. A., &c.
So far I had written the 15th, but being unable to finish my letter was obliged to postpone it. Mr. Aitken informed me yesterday that he persuaded a Mr. Lesley to take Josey into his day-school. This Mr. Lesley is famous as a teacher, and was in such repute when he lived in New York £hat I have known children kept from school for two years, that they might be at liberty to get into the first opening which offered in his. He will remove to New York soon, but Mr. A. thinks not before Josey has had sufficient schooling.
The ice in Schuykill broke up a few days ago: it formed a dam below what we call the middle ferry, which occasioned a flood, and strewed the bank with a great number of congeries of ice. These now form a very romantic scene. They appear like huge rocks irregularly placed upon the shore, and are in form something like haystacks. One of them which was measured is 15 feet in height. Much damage has been done upon the banks of the river.
The Freemason is a perfect model of patience and philosophy: so long engaged, his bliss so long delayed, and he alive! Who would have thought it possible? Is not Mrs. B, surprised at it? Why can't you gratify Mrs. Belknap's wishes by bringing her with you in the spring? And theji she may see Mrs. H., Josey, Philadelphia, &c, &c, all at once? Josey is well, and still continues to