Abbildungen der Seite


MR. GALLATIN is eighty-seven ; and in the winter of 1845-6, when I saw him in New York, was in the full enjoyment of excellent bodily health and mental vigour. In the previous June I had been gratified by a long interview with this enlightened and sagacious Statesman ; his piercing and original remarks, his shrewd criticisms of men and things, his erudition, his charming raillery, and, above all, his perfect kindness, made this visit delightful; but I think the morning I sat with him in December, after my return from Canada and the West, was more memorable still, for I knew the country and the people more intimately, and was able to enter more fully into his political explanations, and his spirited anecdotes. From these two interviews and my intermediate travels to the Mississippi and the Western States, there arose a whimsical report

that I was a spy in the employ of Sir Robert Peel! and that the little Doctor, with his delicate health, was a mere ruse de guerre.

I was once asked by a party in the railroad, “What remuneration Sir Robert gave me?” The question was demanded in a sort of doubting earnest that was irresistibly droll. The period of both visits and excursion was propitious for this amusing delusion ; the Oregon Question being then (December 15th) before Congress.

The pamphlet published by Mr. Gallatin, on this subject, is one of the most interesting essays I have ever read, and it derives a higher claim to admiration from the circumstances under which it was written. To America is presented in its pages the last tribute probably which can ever be offered to her acceptance by the devoted and venerable son of her adoption—by her Statesman ancient of days ; it breathes his parting wishes, conveys

his latest benediction to the land which his talents have eminently served in public life, and his virtues have adorned in private. Nor is it less valuable for its research, extent of knowledge, and concen

[ocr errors]

tration of argument, than for the calm and dignified tone of feeling and moderation which it displays; throughout the laws of humanity prevail. It is an effort of patriotism worthy of him whose early personal sacrifices for the sake of justice are known to all. “I had been a pioneer in collecting “facts and stating the case.”—“An aged man, “who for the last thirty years has been detached “from party politics, and who has now nothing “whatever to hope or to fear from the world, has

no merit in seeking only the truth, and acting an independent part.”

Mr. Gallatin is by birth a native of Switzerland, and fled from his country in early life on account of his attachment to liberal principles; he first landed in Boston, and struggled with various pecuniary difficulties, to which he accommodated himself with the independence of the Swiss, and the happy philosophy of the French. In America, talent and good conduct never fail of obtaining their reward; the abilities of Mr. Gallatin were soon discovered; he married advantageously; by his sagacity he was enabled materially to improve his

fortune, and while yet in the prime of life, scarcely forty years of age,* he had risen to confidential and pre-eminent posts in the Administration of the Federal Government. By Mr. Jefferson and Mr. Madison he was held in the highest estimation; his versatility of mental gifts rendered him peculiarly useful, and his financial talents were of the highest order. Mr. Jefferson said of Mr. Gallatin, “that he should not be measured by the standard “applied to other men;" so highly did he value his ability.

In 1813, Mr. Gallatin was appointed one of the Commissioners sent to Europe to negociate the Peace with Great Britain. The Treaty was concluded at Ghent, in 1814. In appearance Mr. Gallatin is European; his figure is tall and thin; his manner full of vivacity; he speaks rapidly, and evidently many thoughts while in conversation

* In 1793 we find him returned as a Senator by the State of Pennsylvania, and pronounced disqualified on the ground that he had not been a citizen sufficient time to enable him to hold a seat in the Senate. He was then thirty-three, and had sought refuge in the United States from persecution, fortuneless and friendless.

rush into his head which he has not even time to utter; his

eye still sparkles, and his countenance is full of spirit. When I saw him in winter, he wore a black velvet cap which was very characteristic, and black velvet slippers. His son and grandson were present besides myself and son; two gentlemen waited upon him on business, and his Amanuensis sat at his side. Finding him occupied I would have retired, but he would on no account permit this, and he proceeded to converse with us all in turn on affairs of amusement or business, occasionally to dictate to the Amanuensis, and occasionally to find a little fault with the writing; and, finally, when I was left alone with him he spoke almost incessantly for two hours on every variety of subject, with all the wit, and learning, and spirit imaginable. He paid me one of the most graceful complim ents I have ever received. After hearing how much I had been gratified by my visit to the West, and how I had found all America " couleur de rose," he gently alluded to my romance, as he had done the day before in the very elegant note, which I cannot resist the pleasure of transcribing below. “I believe,” said he, “ you possess

« ZurückWeiter »