« AnkstesnisTęsti »
NEXT in time among the prophets was John Adams, who has left on record at different dates several predictions which show a second-sight of no common order. Of his life I need say nothing, except that he was born 19th October, 1735, and died 4th July, 1826. I mention the predictions in the
order of their utterance.
1. While teaching a school at Worcester, and when under twenty years of age, he wrote a letter to one of his youthful companions, bearing date 12th October, 1755, which is a marvel of foresight. Fifty-two years afterwards, when already much of its prophecy had been fulfilled, the original was returned to its author by the son of his early comrade and correspondent, Nathan Webb, who was at the time dead. In this letter, after remarking gravely on the rise and fall of nations, with illustrations from Carthage and Rome, he proceeds: — "England began to increase in power and magnificence, and is now the greatest nation of the globe. Soon after the Reformation, a few people came over into this New World for conscience' sake. Perhaps this apparently trivial incident may transfer the great seat of empire to America. It looks likely to me; for if we can remove the turbulent Gallics, our people, according to the
exactest computations, will, in another century, become more numerous than England itself. Should this be the case, since we have, I may say, all the naval stores of the nations in our hands, it will be easy to obtain the mastery of the seas; and then the united force of all Europe will not be able to subdue The only way to keep us from setting up for ourselves is to disunite us. Divide et impera. Keep us in distinct colonies, and then, some great men in each colony desiring the monarchy of the whole, they will destroy each others' influence, and keep the country in equilibrio."*
On this letter his son, John Quincy Adams, remarks:
"Had the political part of it been written by the minister of state of a European monarchy, at the close of a long life spent in the government of nations, it would have been pronounced worthy of the united wisdom of a Burleigh, a Sully, or an Oxenstiern. . . In one bold outline he has exhibited by anticipation a long succession of prophetic history, the fulfilment of which is barely yet in progress, responding exactly hitherto to his foresight, but the full accomplishment of which is reserved for the development of after ages. The extinction of the power of France in America, the union of the British North American Colonies, the achievement of their independence, and the establishment of their ascendency in the community of civilized nations by the means of their naval power, are all foreshadowed in this letter, with a clearness of perception and a distinctness of delineation which time has done little more than to convert into historical fact."†
2. The Declaration of Independence bears date 4th July, 1776, for on that day it was signed; but the vote which determined it was on the 2d July. On the 3d July, John Adams, in a letter to his wife, wrote as follows: "Yesterday the greatest question
was decided which ever was debated in America, and a greater, perhaps, never was nor will be decided among men. . . . . I am surprised at the suddenness as well as greatness of this revolution. Britain has been filled with folly, and America with wisdom. At least this is my judgment. Time must determine. It is the will of Heaven that the two countries should be sundered forever.. The day is past. The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epocha in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward, forevermore. You will think me transported with enthusiasm, but I am not. I am well aware of the toil and blood and treasure that it will cost us to maintain this Declaration, and support and defend these States. Yet, through all the gloom, I can see the ray of ravishing light and glory; and that posterity will triumph in that day's transaction, even although we should rue it, which I trust in God we shall not."
Here is a comprehensive prophecy, first, that the two countries would be separated forever; secondly, that the anniversary of Independence would be celebrated as a great annual festival; and, thirdly, that posterity would triumph in this transaction, where, through all the gloom, shone rays of ravishing light and glory; all of which has been fulfilled to the letter. Recent events give to the Declaration additional importance. For a long time its great promises that all men are equal, and that rightful government stands only on the consent of the governed, were disowned by our country. Now that at last they are beginning to prevail, there John Adams, Works, Vol. I. pp. 230, 232.
is increased reason to celebrate the day on which the mighty Declaration was made, and new occasion for triumph in the rays of ravishing light and glory.
3. Here is another prophetic passage in a letter dated at Paris, 13th July, 1780, and addressed to the Count de Vergennes of France, pleading the cause of the colonists:
"The United States of America are a great and powerful people, whatever European statesmen may think of them. If we take into our estimate the numbers and the character of her people, the extent, variety, and fertility of her soil, her commerce, and her skill and materials for ship-building, and her seamen, excepting France, Spain, England, Germany, and Russia, there is not a state in Europe so powerful. Breaking off such a nation as this from the English so suddenly, and uniting it so closely with France, is one of the most extraordinary events that ever happened among mankind." *
Perhaps this may be considered a statement rather than a prophecy; but it illustrates the prophetic character of the writer.
4. In an official letter to the President of Congress, dated at Amsterdam, 5th September, 1780, the same writer, while proposing an American Academy for refining, improving, and ascertaining the English language, thus predicts the extension of this language:
English is destined to be in the next and succeeding centuries more generally the language of the world than Latin was in the last or French is in the present age. The reason of this is obvious, - because the increasing population in America, and their universal connection and correspondence with all nations, will, aided by the influence of England in the world, whether great or small, force their language into general use, in spite of all the obstacles that may be thrown in their way, if any such there should be." t
In another letter of an unofficial character, dated at Amsterdam, 23d Septem* Ibid., Vol. VII. p. 227. + Ibid., p. 250.
"You must know I have undertaken to prophesy that English will be the most respectable language in the world, and the most universally read and spoken in the next century, if not before the close of this. American population will in the next age produce a greater number of persons who will speak English than any other language, and these persons will have more general acquaintance and conversation with all other nations than any other people." *
This prophecy is already accomplished. Of all the European languages, English is most extensively spoken. Through England and the United States it has become the language of commerce, which, sooner or later, must embrace the globe. The German philologist, Grimm, has followed our American prophet in saying that it "seems chosen, like its people, to rule in future times in a still greater degree in all the corners of the earth."†
5. There is another prophecy, at once definite and broad, which proceeded from the same eminent quarter. In a letter dated London, 17th October, 1785, and addressed to John Jay, who was at the time Secretary for Foreign Affairs under the Confederation, John Adams reveals his conviction of the importance of France to us, "while England held a province in America " ";‡ and then, in another letter, dated 21st October, 1785, reports the saying of people about him, "that Canada and Nova Scotia must soon be ours; there must be war for it; they know how it will end, but the sooner the better. This done, we shall be forever at peace; till then, never."§ These intimations foreshadow the prophecy which will be found in the Preface to his "Defence of the American Constitutions," written in London, while he was Minister there, and dated at Grosvenor Square, 1st January, 1787: —
John Adams, Works, Vol. IX. p. 510. Keith Johnston, Physical Atlas, p. 114. John Adams, Works, Vol. VIII. p. 322. § Ibid. p. 33.
"The United States of America have exhibited, perhaps, the first example of governments erected on the simple principles of nature. . . . . Thirteen governments thus founded on the natural authority of the people alone, without a pretence of miracle or mystery, and which are destined to spread over the northern part of that whole quarter of the globe, are a great point gained in favor of the rights of mankind. The experiment is made, and has completely succeeded."*
Here is foretold nothing less than that our system of government is to embrace the whole continent of North America.
AMONG the most brilliant persons in this list is the Abbé Galiani, a Neapolitan, who was born in 1728, and died at Naples in 1787. Although Italian by birth, yet by the accident of official residence he became for a while domesticated in France, wrote the French language, and now enjoys a French reputation. His writings in French and his letters have the wit and ease of Voltaire.
Galiani was a genius. Whatever he touched shone at once with his brightness, in which there was originality as well as knowledge. He was a finished scholar, and very successful in lapidary verses. Early in life, while in Italy, he wrote a grave essay on Money, which contrasted with another of rare humor suggested by the death of the public executioner. Other essays followed, and then came the favor of that congenial pontiff, Benedict XIV. In 1760 he found himself at Paris, as Secretary of the Neapolitan Embassy. Here he mingled with the courtiers officially, according to the duties of his position, but he fraternized with the liberal and sometimes audacious spirits who exercised such an influence over society and literature. He was soon recognized as one of them, and as inferior to His petty stature was forgotten, when he conversed with inexhaustible *John Adams, Works, Vol. IV. p. 293.
faculties of all kinds, so that he seemed an Encyclopædia, Harlequin, and Machiavelli all in one. The atheists at the Thursday dinner of D'Holbach were confounded, while he enforced the existence of God. Into the questions of political economy which occupied attention at the time he entered with a pen which seemed borrowed from the French Academy. His Dialogues sur le Commerce des Blés had the success of a romance; ladies carried this book on corn in their work-baskets. Returning to Naples, he continued to live in Paris through his correspondence, especially with Madame d'Épinay, the Baron d'Holbach, Diderot, and Grimm."
Among his later works, after his return to Naples, was a solid volumenot to be forgotten in the History of International Law-on the "Rights of Neutrals," where a difficult subject is treated with such mastery that, half a century later, D'Hautefeuille, in his elaborate treatise, copies from it at length. Galiani was the predecessor of this French writer in the extreme assertion of neutral rights. Other works were left at his death in manuscript, some grave and some humorous; also letters without number. The letters he had preserved from Italian savans filled eight large volumes; those from savans, ministers, and sovereigns abroad filled fourteen. His Parisian correspondence did not see the light till 1818, although some of the letters may be found in the contemporary correspondence of Grimm.
In his Parisian letters, which are addressed chiefly to that clever individuality, Madame d'Epinay, the Neapolitan Abbé shows not only the brilliancy and nimbleness of his talent, but the universality of his knowledge and the boldness of his speculations. Here are a few words from a letter dated at Naples, 12th October, 1776, in which he brings forward the idea of "races," so important in our day, with an illustration from Russia :
* Biographie Universelle of Michaud; also of Didot: Louis Blanc, Histoire de la Révolution Française, Tome I. pp. 390, 545-551.
"All depends on races. the most noble of races, comes naturally from the North of Asia. The Russians are the nearest to it, and this is the reason why they have made more progress in fifty years than can be got out of the Portuguese in five hundred."*
Belonging to the Latin race, Galiani was entitled to speak thus freely.
I. In another letter to Madame
d'Épinay, dated at Naples, 18th May, 1776, he had already foretold the success of our Revolution. Few prophets have been more explicit than he was in the following passage:
"Livy said of his age, which so much resembled ours, 'Ad hæc tempora ventum est quibus, nec vitia nostra, nec remedia pati possumus,'-'We are in an age where the remedies hurt as much as the vices.' Do you know the reality? The epoch has come of the total fall of Europe, and of transmigration into America. All here turns into rottenness, religion, laws, arts, sciences, and all hastens to renew itself in America. This is not a jest ; nor is it an idea drawn from the English quarrels; I have said it, announced it,› preached it, for more than twenty years, and I have constantly seen my prophecies come to pass. Therefore, do not buy your house in the Chaussée d'Antin; you must buy it in Philadelphia. My trouble is that there are no abbeys in America."†
This letter was written some months before the Declaration of Independence was known in Europe.
2. In another letter, dated at Naples, 7th February, 1778, the Abbé alludes to the "quantities" of English men and women who have come to Naples "for shelter from the American tempest," and adds, "Meanwhile the Washingtons and Hancocks will be fatal to them." In still another, dated at Naples, 25 July, 1778, he renews
* Galiani, Correspondence, Tome II. p. 221. See also Grimm, Correspondence, Tome IX. p. 282. + Galiani, Tome II. p. 203: Grimm, Tome IX. p. 285. Galiani, Tome II. p. 275.
his prophecies in language still more explicit :
66 You will at this time have decided the greatest revolution of the globe; namely, if it is America which is to reign over Europe, or if it is Europe which is to continue to reign over America. I will wager in favor of America, for the reason merely physical, that for five thousand years genius has turned opposite to the diurnal motion, and travelled from the East to the West."
Here again is the idea of Berkeley which has been so captivating.
In contrast with the witty Italian is the illustrious philosopher and writer of Scotland, Adam Smith, who was born 5th June, 1723, and died 17th July, 1790. His fame is so commanding that any details of his life or works would be out of place on this occasion. He was a thinker and an inventor, through whom mankind was advanced in knowledge.
I say nothing of his "Theory of Moral Sentiments," which constitutes an important contribution to the science of ethics, but come at once to his great work of political economy, entitled "Inquiry into the Nature and Sources of the Wealth of Nations," which first appeared in 1776. Its publication marks an epoch which is described by Mr. Buckle when he says: "Adam Smith contributed more, by the publication of this single work, toward the happiness of man, than has been effected by the united abilities of all the statesmen and legislators of whom history has preserved an authentic account." The work is full of prophetic knowledge, and especially with regard to the British colonies. Writing while the debate with the mother country was still pending, Adam Smith urged that they should be admitted to Parliamentary representation in proportion to taxation, so that their representation would enlarge with their growing resources; and here Galiani, Tome II. p. 275.
he predicts nothing less than the transfer of empire.
"The distance of America from the seat of government, the natives of that country might flatter themselves, with some appearance of reason too, would not be of very long continuance. Such has hitherto been the rapid progress of that country in wealth, population, and improvement, that, in the course of little more than a century, perhaps, the produce of America might exceed that of British taxation. The seat of the empire would then naturally remove itself to that part of the empire which contributed most to the general defence and support of the whole."*
In these tranquil words of assured science this great author carries the seat of government across the Atlantic.
AMONG the best friends of our country abroad during the trials of the Revolution was Thomas Pownall, called by one biographer "a learned antiquary and politician," and by another "an English statesman and author." Latterly he has so far dropped out of sight, that there are few who recognize in him either of these characters. He was born, 1722, and died at Bath, 1805. During this long period he held several offices. As early as 1745 he became secretary to the Commission for Trade and Plantations. In 1753 he crossed the ocean. In 1755, as Commissioner for Massachusetts Bay, he negotiated with New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, in union with New England, the confederated expedition against Crown Point. He was afterwards Governor of Massachusetts Bay, New Jersey, and South Carolina, successively. Returning to England, he was, in 1761, Comptroller-General of the army in Germany, with the military rank of Colonel. He sat in three successive Parliaments until 1780, when he passed into private
* Smith, Wealth of Nations, Book IV. cap. 7, part 3.