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forbidden. On the question whether the principle of “free bottoms making free goods, and enemy bottoms enemy goods," is now to be considered as established in the law of nations, I will state to you a fact within my own knowledge, which may lessen the weight of our authority as having acted in the war of France and England on the ancient principle “ that the goods of an enemy in the bottom of a friend are lawful prize; while those of a friend in an enemy bottom are not so.” England became a party in the general war against France on the 1st of February, 1793. We took immediately the stand of neutrality. We were aware that our great intercourse with these two maritime nations would subject us to harassment by multiplied questions on the duties of neutrality, and that an important and early one would be which of the two principles above stated should be the law of action with us? We wished to act on the new one of “ free bottoms free goods ;” and we had established it in our treaties with other nations, but not with England. We determined therefore to avoid, if possible, committing ourselves on this question until we could negotiate with England her acquiescence in the new principle. Although the cases occurring were numerous, and the ministers, Genet and Hammond, eagerly on the watch, we were able to avoid any declaration until the massacre of St. Domingo. The whites, on that occasion, took refuge on board our ships, then in their harbor, with all the property they could find room for; and on their passage to the United States, many of them were taken by British cruisers, and their cargoes seized as lawful prize. The inflammable temper of Genet kindled at once, and he wrote, with his usual passion, a letter reclaiming an observance of the principle of " free bottoms free goods," as if already an acknowledged law of neutrality. I pressed him in conversation not to urge this point ; that although it had been acted on by convention, by the armed neutrality, it was not yet become a principle of universal admission ; that we wished indeed to strengthen it by our adoption, and were negotiating an acquiescence on the part of Great Britain: but if forced to decide prematurely, we must justify ourselves by a declaration of the ancient principle, and that no general consent of nations had as yet changed it. He was immoveable, and on the 25th of July wrote a letter, so insulting, that nothing but a determined system of justice and moderation would have prevented his being shipped home in the first vessel. I had the day before answered his of the 9th, in which I had been obliged in our own justification, to declare that the ancient was the established principle, still existing and authoritative. Our denial, therefore, of the new principle, and action on the old one, were forced upon us by the precipitation and intemperance of Genet, against our wishes, and against our aim; and our involuntary practice, therefore, is of less authority against the new rule.
I owe you particular thanks for the copy of your translation of Buttman's Greek Grammar, which you have been so kind as to send me. A cursory view of it promises me a rich mine of valuable criticism. I observe he goes with the herd of grammarians in denying an Ablative case to the Greek language. I cannot concur with him in that, but think with the Messrs. of Port Royal who admit an Ablative. And why exclude it? Is it because the Dative and Ablative in Greek are always of the same form ? Then there is no Ablative to the Latin plurals, because in them as in Greek, these cases are always in the same form, The Greeks recognized the Ablative under the appellation of the 11101015 ocorrofrixn, which I have met with and noted from some of the scholiasts, without recollecting where. Stephens, Scapula, Hederic acknowledge it as one of the significations of the word ufuge!
111203. That the Greeks used it cannot be denied, For one of multiplied examples which may be produced take the following from the Hippolytris of Euripides: “F178 10 190710, dixos
ειπε τω , δικης Επαισεν αυτον ETITEV evrov gozung0v," "dic quo modo justitiæ clava percussit eum, quo modo” are Ablatives, then why not rw 190119 ? And translating it into English, should we use the *Dative or Ablative preposition ? It is not perhaps easy to define very critically All agree
* See Buttman's Datives, p. 230, every one of which I should consider as under the accident or relation called Ablative, having no signification of approach according to his definition of the Dative.
what constitutes a case in the declension of nouns. as to the Nominative that it is simply the name of the thing. If we admit that a distinct case is constituted by any accident or modification which changes the relation which that bears to the actors or action of the sentence, we must agree to the six cases at least ; because, for example, to a thing, and from a thing are very different accidents to the thing. It may be said that if erery distinct accident or change of relation constitutes a different case, then there are in eyery language as many cases as there are prepositions; for this is the peculiar office of the preposition. But because we do not designate by special names all the cases to which a noun is liable, is that a reason why we should throw away half of those we have, as is done by those grammarians who reject all cases, but the Nominative, Genitive, and Accusative, and in a less degree by those also who reject the Ablative alone? as pushing the discrimination of all the possible cases to extremities leads us to nothing useful or practicable, I am contented with the old six cases, familiar to every cultivated language, ancient and modern, and well understood by all. I acknowledge myself at the same time not an adept in the metaphysical speculations of Grammar. By analyzing too minutely we often reduce our subject to atoms, of which the mind loses its hold. Nor am I a friend to a scrupulous purism of style. I readily sacrifice the niceties of syntax to euphony and strength. It is by boldly neglecting the rigorisms of grammar, that Tacitus has made himself the strongest writer in the world. The Hyperesitics call him barbarous; but I should be sorry to exchange his barbarisms for their wise-drawn purisms. Some of his sentences are as strong as language can make them. Had he scrupulously filled up the whole of their syntax, they would have been merely common. To explain my meaning by an English example, I will quote the motto of one, I believe, of the regicides of Charles I., “Rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God.” Correct its syntax, “Rebellion against tyrants is obedience to God,” it has lost all the strength and beauty of the antithesis. However, dear Sir, I profess again my want of familiarity with
these speculations; I hazard them without confidence, and offer them submissively to your consideration and more practised judgment.
Although writing, with both hands crippled, is slow and painful, and therefore nearly laid aside from necessity, I have been decoyed by my subjects into a very long letter. What would therefore have been a good excuse for ending with the first page, cannot be a bad one for concluding in the fourth, with the assurance of my great esteem and respect.
TO JOHN ADAMS.
MONTICELLO, February 25, 1823. DEAR SIR,—I received, in due time, your two favors of December the 2d and February the 10th, and have to acknowledge for the ladies of my native State their obligations to you for the enconiums which you are so kind as to bestow on them. They certainly claim no advantages over those of their sister States, and are sensible of more favorable circumstances existing with many of them, and happily availed, which our situation does not offer. But the paper respecting Monticello, to which you allude,
, was not written by a Virginian, but a visitant from another State ; and written by memory at least a dozen years after the visit. This has occasioned some lapses of recollection, and a confusion of some things in the mind of our friend, and particularly as to the volume of slanders supposed to have been cut out of newspapers and preserved. It would not, indeed, have been a single volume, but an encyclopedia in bulk. But I never had such a volume ; indeed, I rarely thought those libels worth reading, much less preserving and remembering. At the end of every year, I generally sorted all my pamphlets, and had them bound according to their subjects. One of these volumes consisted of personal altercations between individuals, and calumnies on each other. This was lettered on the back, “ Personalities,” and is now in the library of Congress. I was in the habit,
also, while living apart from my family, of cutting out of the newspapers such morsels of poetry, or tales, as I thought would please, and of sending them to my grandchildren, who pasted them on leaves of blank paper and formed them into a book. These two volumes have been confounded into one in the recollection of our friend. Her poctical imagination, too, has heightened the scenes she visited, as well as the merits of the inhabit.. ants, to whom her society was a delightful gratification.
I have just finished reading O'Meara's Bonaparte. It places him in a higher scale of understanding than I had allotted him. I had thought him the greatest of all military captains, but an indifferent statesman, and misled by unworthy passions. The flashes, however, which escaped from him in these conversations with O'Meara, prove a mind of great expansion, although not of distinct development and reasoning. He seizes results with rapidity and penetration, but never explains logically the process of reasoning by which he arrives at them. This book, too, makes us forget his atrocities for a moment, in commiseration of his sufferings. I will not say that the authorities of the world, charged with the care of their country and people, had not a right to confine him for life, as a lion or tiger, on the principle of self-preservation. There was no safety to nations while he was permitted to roam at large. But the putting him to death in cold blood, by lingering tortures of mind, by vexations, insults and deprivations, was a degree of inhumanity to which the poisonings and assassinations of the school of Borgia and the den of Marat never attained. The book proves, also, that nature had denied him the moral sense, the first excellence of well-organized man. If he could seriously and repeatedly affirm that he had raised himself to power without ever having committed a crime, it proves that he wanted totally the sense of right and wrong. If he could consider the millions of human lives which he had destroyed or caused to be destroyed, the desolations of countries by plunderings, burnings, and famine, the destitutions of lawful rulers of the world without the consent of their constituents, to place his brothers and sisters on their thrones, the cutting up of