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CONTENTS OF NO. VI.
THE number now given, of the American Review, although stated in the title page to be that of April, properly belongs to the present month; the first number having been published within two months after the proposals were issued. Our engagement with the publishers allowed us an interval of three months after that date; or, in other words, stipulated for no more than four numbers within the year immediately ensuing.
As announced in the advertisement to our last number, the undertaking will not be relinquished, while it appears likely to contribute, to the public good. Although a single individual might not find it too oppressive a task, to furnish alone the materials of the work upon the present plan,—this mode of proceeding would defeat one of the principal objects for which it was instituted, and prove fatiguing for the public, who require not only variety in the choice of topics, but that kind of variety, which results from the division of labour among several hands. The literary men of the country are therefore requested to contribute their aid, particularly by the discussion of subjects of general and permanent interest.
We have given place in our Appendix, to the documents laid before congress, in relation to the pretended mission of Henry. We have done so, not because we consider the correspondence as authentic, or that we attach, in any hypothesis, the slightest importance to the affair in general, except in as much as it serves to illustrate the character of our administration. In this respect it has appeared to us of some consequence, and worthy of being put upon record.
The history of parties wherever they have prevailed, is fruitful in examples of short-sighted cunning, and lying artifice practised by their leaders, in order to maintain popular delusions favourable to ill-gotten power. A more impudent,
and at the same time shallow and contemptible expedient for this purpose, than the disclosure of Henry's correspondence, we have, however, not yet encountered in the annals of any nation but our own, not even in those of the small republics of Italy of the middle ages. As Americans, we are heartily ashamed, of the message of the president of the United States, and the response of the house of representatives, concerning this transaction. We are, too, persuaded that the majority of their adherents throughout the country, sympathize with us in this feeling, and in the wish that the whole business could be for ever buried in oblivion, so degrading is it to the national reputation.
Yet as this cannot be effected, the more it is emblazoned at home, perhaps the better, on account of its tendency to rouse the people to such sentiments, and to such a course of action, as may the sooner efface the stain. Machiavel when speaking of the tricks and cheats,— inganni,astutie,ct arti,—resorted to by those who were at the head of the civil affairs of the republic of Florence, in order to maintain themselves in the power and esteem to which they were not entitled, remarks, that, those tricks were not less useful to be known than the noble exploits of antiquity, because if the latter kindled a generous emulation in liberal minds, the former fired them with the desire to avoid and spurn such ignominious examples. Upon this principle it is, that we would preserve with care, every part of the history of our administration for the few years past.
May 2d, 1812.