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translation of the work of M. de Marbois which is not less remarkable for the elegance of its composition and the value of the information it contains, than for the interesting nature of its subject. M. de Marbois resided in this country as Secretary of the French Legation during the occurrence of the circumstances which he narrates; "a witness' he says of these events, I avail myself of the leisure which I enjoy to report them to the world.' Nor were his opportunities only those of a mere resident, his attachment to this country and its institutions made him an attentive spectator, while his official station and his intimacy with the most distinguished Americans supplied the amplest means of acquiring an accurate and extensive acquaintance with the history of the times.
A book written by such a man, on such a subject, comes to us with every claiin upon our attention, and the perusal, while it excites our admiration for the author's abilities, inspires at the same time the most affectionate gratitude towards him for his liberal, kind, and even partial feelings towards our country, and for the new light which he sheds upon our history; and confirms by the corroboration of his testimony our deep felt veneration for the character of Washington.
• The sound judgment of Washington,' he says, “ his steadiness and ability had long since elevated him above all his rivals and
far beyond the reach of envy. His enemies still laboured however "to fasten upon him, as a general, the reproach of mediocrity. It
is true that the military career of this great man is not marked by any of those achievements which seem prodigious, and of which the splendour dazzles and astonishes the universe, but sublime bvirtues unsullied with the least stain are a species of prodigy. His conduct throughout the whole course of the war invariably attracted and deserved the veneration and confidence of his fellow-citizens. The good of his country was the sole end of his exertions, never per
sonal glory. In war and in peace, Washington is in my eye, the most perfect model that can be offered to those who would devote them“selves to the service of their country and assert the cause of liberty.'
M. Marbois has prefixed to his work a • Preliminary discourse on the United States' in which he draws a picture of us that, notwithstanding a few misapprehensions into which the distance of his present view has led him, we may be glad to see presented to the examination of Europe. But this is of inferior value and interest to the narrative which he regularly brings down from the earliest achievements of Arnold to the death of Andre, in a manner so lucid, animated and eloquent as has we believe, in this species of writing, never been surpassed. We shall hope to see it printed in a shape more calculated for extensive circulation; it would of itself form a small volume which might with advantage be placed in the hands of every one of the rising generation, and notwithstanding the well earned celebrity of the American Register, and the ability with which that Journal is conducted, the expensive size of the volume will be an impediment in the way of such general circu
lation as we should desire to see given to this exquisite historical morceau.
The work of M. de Marbois possesses an additional degree of interest at this time, because of the light which it throws upon the question lately raised as to the real motives which actuated the captors of Major Andre.
We acknowledge ourselves to be among those who have been anxiously ready to be convinced that our long established and recently disturbed opinion of the magnanimity of Paulding, Williams, and Vanwart, was founded on a just and correct appreciation of their conduct. We felt our national pride wounded by the statement of Col. Tallmadge, and therefore rejoice to find in the work of M. de Marbois, taken in connexion with the Vindication of the Captors of Major Andre,' a complete and satisfactory refutation, as we conceive, of the charges so publickly brought against them in Congress. We believe it is universally regretted that the honourable member happened to find himself in a situation which called for a disclosure of his sentiments; those even who were convinced of the correctness of his opinion admitted the conviction with reluctance, and there were not a few that were so much exasperated as to fall into a very unreasonable suspicion against the candour and generosity of Col. Tallmadge himself. His high character and long sustained eminence however place him above the effect of all such unfavourable conjectures, though nothing can exempt him from the liability to err, which he shares with all mankind. And we trust a very slight consideration of the circumstances will suffice to show that Col. Tallmadge must have been in this instance entirely mistaken.
It has been said that the thanks of general Washington, and the pension granted by congress to Paulding, Williams, and Vanwart, were intended merely as strokes of policy, without regard to the abstract justice of their claims, and meant to encourage such conduct, from whatever motive proceeding; and therefore that we should draw no inference from thence of the actual estimation in which the exploit was held at the time, by those who had opportunities to understand it. And we know that national policy has sometimes been thought to require the concealment or disguise of truth. But surely such occasions have been very few in the history of our country, above all others; and there is no nation whose institutions render the truth of its annals so easy of detection, and so incapable of concealment. Washington, and the congress, might possibly have thought it expedient, for political purposes, to have affected an admiration for the conduct of Andre's captors, which they did not feel; though we cannot, in this instance, perceive a motive for any such simulation; but the whole army having the same opportunities, must have had the same information which Washington and the congress possessed; and no reasons of policy could have induced them to acquiesce so universally, as it is well known they did, in the sentiment expressed by congress. And even if the pride of country
was so general, and so potent, as to seal all lips, and restrain all pens from uttering the truth; if this had been the case with all the Americans who were witnesses of the facts, yet how can we set aside the testimony of M. de Marbois, a foreigner, who writes for European readers, and never avoids speaking freely in censure of whatever among us he considers blameable; who, impartial and seeking only for truth, unbiassed and faithful in his narrative, could have no inducement for disguising or glossing the simple truth of history? His opportunities of knowing were undoubtedly sufficient to entitle him to credit, his curiosity was awake, and his belief must have been formed upon that of the best informed, and most respectable among our countrymen. Whatever he states, therefore, as an undoubted and indisputable fact, it is reasonable to receive as the prevailing opinion, uncontroverted at the time.
If this be conceded (and we can imagine no possible objection to the inference) it is worthy of remark how confidently and unhesitatingly M. de Marbois ascribes the best motives to Paulding, Williams, and Vanwart:
• He,' (Andre), · had proceeded four leagues onward, with the same good fortune; he could see the Hudson once more, and was
about entering Tarrytown, the border village, when a man, armed * with a gun, sprung suddenly from the thicket, and seizing the reins of his bridle, exclaimed, “Where are you bound?” At the same instant two others rán up, who formed, with the first part of the patrol of volunteer militia that guarded the lines,' &c.
• He offered them gold, his horse, and promised them large re* wards, and permanent provision, from the English government, if - they would let him escape. These young men, whom such offers • did but animate the more in their duty, replied, that they wanted . nothing.'
Again, in the conclusion, he says:
• Doubtless the highest honours should, by universal consent, be • awarded to those citizens who have been fortunate enough to pre
serve their country from a great calamity. It is of such distinc• tions that men of an elevated character are most ambitious of prov
ing themselves worthy. But there is yet more merit and virtue in • doing well without ambition or the hope of reward. These three
young men had not thought of blazoning an action, in which they • had but performed their duty. They learned with surprise that · Washington had caused search to be made for them,' &c.
. The names of John Paulding, David Williams, and Isaac Vanwart, will be celebrated and cherished in all after ages.'
And in the preliminary discourse: • The treachery of Arnold was attended with more remarkable circumstances. He concerted a plot with the enemies of his country, to replace it under their do* minion, and to deliver general Washington into their hands. The republic was saved by the virtue of three young soldiers.'
The opinion of M. de Marbois, then, which must have been the general opinion sincerely entertained by those who knew the best,
is extremely favourable to their disinterestedness; but colonel Tall madge believes they were not disinterested, and deserved no thanks nor praises for the services they performed; and he made known the foundation of his belief: it was the declaration of the gallant, highminded Andre himself. The authority is, at first view, imposing. Andre was an honourable man, and a dying man: and therefore his assertions were doubly entitled to credit. But, on the other hand, it must be recollected in what situation, and under what circumstances, Andre made the accusation against his captors. Colonel Tallmadge was the first officer into whose custody Andre was delivered. He received a captive of no ordinary fortune: a few minutes before had seen him in the possession not only of liberty, but, as he supposed, of safety; and, as he fondly hoped, on the eve of reaping the golden harvest of his perilous labours. The war finished--the British cause triumphant-Washington in bondage-and the American army laying down their arms;---such were the flattering anticipations that beguiled the tediousness of his solitary journey. His imagination fondly dwelling on these events, so soon and so certainly to happen, he already heard in fancy the plaudits of the English army sounding in his ears. Fame, wealth, and title, the earnest of his country's gratitude, seemed already to have been conferred; and, to render his sensations more exquisitely delightful, (for Andre was a lover), his mind looked forward to the blissful moment when the object of his affections, glorying in his fame, should bestow the dearest meed of victory, in becoming the partner of his happiness. From a dream of felicity so transcendant, how horrible was the awakening! His fancy was recalled from scenes of refinement, sentiment, and glory, by the rude questioning of the plain-spoken rustics that arrested him. He found himself foiled, his schemes baffled, his hopes blighted, his prospects of an earthly paradise changed to the contemplation of disappointment, captivity, and an ignominious death; and this effected by the agency of beings so coarse, so low, and, in his eyes, so despicable, that the bitterest feelings of rage and mortification must naturally have swelled in his heart and distracted his understanding. In proportion to the elevation of his character must have been the depth of his despair.
“The captive thrush may brook the cage:
* The prison'd eagle dies for rage.' In this condition, so trying to the firmness of his soul, with his youthful passions roused into a very tempest that must have overwhelmed alike his judgment and his discretion, he was received by colonel Tallmadge, and then, for the first time since his misfortune, found himself with an equal, to whom he could, without degradation, unbosom his intolerable grief. The generous lion bites the arrow that drinks his life-blood; and thus did the captive's bosom boil with rage against the innocent instruments of his reverse of fortune. No wonder, in such a moment, that he poured out execrations and curses, loud and deep, against his captors. So he would have done had colonel Tallmadge, or Washington himself been in their place. It was human nature, and no more derogates from the
high honour and elevated soul of Andre, than it should do from the probity and magnanimity of his captors.
The ravings of his despair (and when had man more grievous cause for despair?) can furnish no legitimate testimony against the objects of his impotent wrath.
Assertions made at such a time would never be allowed to have any weight against himself; by what rule, then, of equity or reason, ought they to prevail unfavourably to others?
His captors, he told colonel Tallmadge, were a villainous set of wretches, who seized him only for the sake of plunder, and would have released him for a bribe. He could not bear to think well of such dire foes to his happiness, and destroyers of his fortune, and consoled himself in venting his rage upon them in language of opprobrium. He was not to blame; he deserved only our compassion: but colonel Tallmadge should have known human nature better than to allow his judgment to be warped by such evidence. If, indeed, Andre had continued to make the same assertions after he had become more self-possessed, and when the lapse of time, and the near view of death had cooled the fury of his passions, the conclusion might fairly have been drawn against the honesty of the captors, unless some contrary evidence appeared. But Andre did no such thing; it is not pretended that he did, and it is abundantly proved that he did not, by the letter of general Hamilton, written in 1780, and to be found in page 68 of the Vindication.'
Hamilton passed much time with Andre, at his request, and was with him frequently during the awful interval between his sentence and execution, conversed with him familiarly, was treated by him as a friend, received from him all the interesting particulars of his misfortune, learned to admire, respect, and pity him; yet the impressions made on his mind by all this intercourse were different from those which colonel Tallmadge received. With implicit reliance on Andre's honour, with unbounded confidence in his veracity, and with unrestrained freedom of communication, Hamilton imbibed no other opinion of Paulding, Williams, and Vanwart, than that which the whole nation, except colonel Tallmadge, has cherished, and which M. de Marbois so well expresses, and so satisfactorily confirms.
In the letter alluded to, from general Hamilton to colonel Sears, written in 1780, there is the following forcible contrast: “ This man, (Arnold), is in every sense despicable. In addition to the scene of knavery and prostitution, during his command in Philadelphia, which the late seizure of his papers has unfolded, the history of
his command at Westpoint is a history of little as well as great vil• lanies. He practised every act of peculation, and even stooped to connexions with the suttlers of the garrison to defraud the public.
* To his conduct that of the captors of Andre forms a striking contrast; he tempted their integrity with the offer of his watch, his horse, and any sum of money they should name. They rejected • his offers with indignation; and the gold that could seduce a man