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with a most lamentable influenza. This historical truth is recorded by my grandfather, with great emphasis, in old black letter capitals; so that, should his fond predilection toward fish and oysters, incline him to be near the ocean, he would take the hint, and locate his government, where the citizens might be punished with incessant coughing and pulmonary strictures, if they pretended to meddle with traffic and merchandize.
The Lacedæmonians were trained to war from their cradles; the members of our social compact, on the other hand, are to be educated in all the amiable arts of peace. Should any foreign power aggrieve them by a violation of their rights, the supreme magistrate, (who must be distinguished for sweetness of temper) is directed to behave with becoming circumspection and politeness. Special messengers are immediately to be deputed, with the compliments of his excellency, and a present of the most splendid copies of Grotius, Puffendorff, Vattel, Bynkershoek, and Grunther, that can be found. Care must however be previously taken, that the index-ribbons shall point to those chapters, which define and establish the rights so unworthily violated-If this complaisant inuendo fail of the desired effect, that part of the Philo-politico-national wardrobe, representing such unfriendly power, to wit, either the red-breeches of Paris cut, or the Bond-street coat of London brown, or the silk stockings of Valdemoro, or the stone-coloured waistcoat, with scarlet button-holes, or the big funnel bonnet with a bead on top of it, shall at once, be contumeliously discarded, and home-spun substituted. But, although the temple of Janus be always kept shut, no oriental effeminacy shall be allowed-No, no; my grandsire exclaims with honest, manly indignation against those Chinese mandarins, who, when their wives are in the family way, and "" as well as can be expected," lie abed, one entire month, to receive the visits and welcomes of their neighbours-shame! shame!
Littleton Honeysuckle has just returned from a pleasant dance into the country. The courteous reader, I know, will cheerfully permit me to lay my manuscript aside, and shake hands with my kind-hearted yokefellow.
Norfolk, Va. 1811.
FOR THE PORT FOLIO.
The subject of a national university has occupied the attention of congress, from time to time, almost from the organization of the government. But no report was ever made to congress on the subject.
President Madison's message on that subject was referred in the house of representatives, to a committee of seven members, these were Messrs. Mitchill, Burwell, Macon, Pitkin, Wheaton, J. Porter and Ringold. The opinion of the chairman was warmly in favour of having a Seminary worthy of the nation, at the seat of government. He had collected a large mass of information, framed a plan of education, drawn a bill, and demonstrated whence funds could be derived. But he was overruled by the gentlemen with whom he was associated. Five of the committee decided against the measure, upon every consideration. And Mr. Ringold was the only member who joined Dr. M. in the wish to make a communi1 cation of all the evidence and documents to the house, and in the propriety of acting immediately upon it.
The report as it stands is the account of the chairman, in obedience to the majority, and expresses their opinion, and not his own.
The practical inference from the report is this; that there is no prospect of getting a national university; and of course all literary and scientific institutions must be within the jurisdictions of the respective states, or under their patronage. Washington, February 22d, 1811.
Of the committee to whom was referred, on the tenth day of December, 1810, that part of the president's message to both houses of congress, at the opening of the session, which relates to the establishment of a seminary of learning by the national legislature.
IN obedience to the order of the house, the committee has duly considered the important matter referred.
A university, or institution for the communication of knowledge in the various departments of literature and science, presents to the mind, at one view, subjects of the most pleasing contemplation.
To a free people it would seem that a seminary, in which the culture of the heart and of the understanding should be the chief objects, would be one of the best guards of their privileges, and a leading object of their care.
Under this conviction, the patriotic spirit of Washington led him more than once to recommend, in his speeches to congress, an attention to such an undertaking. He even bequeathed a legacy to the national university, which he persuaded himself would, at some future day, be brought into being. Two other presidents have subsequently presented the subject to the legislature as worthy of special consideration.
Authorities so respectable in favour of a project so desirable, carry with them great weight. A central school at the seat of the general government, darting the rays of intellectual light, or rolling the flood of useful information throughout the land, could not fail to make a strong impression. A noble and enlarged institution, may be conceived to impart to its pupils the most excellent instruction, and by properly qualifying persons to be teachers and professors, to introduce a uniform system of educacation among the citizens.
On weighing these and other advantages, it was necessary to consider whether congress possessed the power to found and endow a national university?
It is argued from the total silence of the constitution, that such a power has not been granted to congress, inasmuch as the only means by which it is therein contemplated to promote the progress of science and the useful arts, is by securing to respective authors and inventors, the exclusive right to their writings and discoveries for limited times. The constitution therefore does not warrant the erection of such a corporation by any express provision.
But it immediately occurred, that under the right to legis late exclusively over the district wherein the United States have fixed their seat of government, congress may erect a university at any place within the ten miles square ceded by Maryland and Virginia.
This cannot be doubted. Here, however, other considerations arise. Although there is no constitutional impediment to the incorporation of trustees for such a purpose at the city of Washington, serious doubts are entertained as to the right to appropiate the public property for its support. The endowment of a university is not ranked among the objects for which drafts
ought to be made upon the treasury. The money of the nation seems to be reserved for other uses.
The incorporation of a university, without funds, appears a fruitless and inefficient exercise of the legislative power. There is indeed some personal estate on hand, which would vest in such a body, on the moment of its creation. And more may reasonably be expected from legacies and other donations. But these sources of revenue are too scanty and precarious to be relied upon, in the present case. It is better not to legislate at all, than to pass a statute destitute of the means of execution.
The matter then stands thus: The erection of a university upon the enlarged and magnificent plan, which would become the nation, is not within the powers confided by the constitution to congress. And the erection of a small and ordinary college, with a pompous and imposing title, would not become its dignity. If nevertheless, at any time, legislative aid should be asked to incorporate a district university, for the local benefit of the inhabitants of Columbia, out of funds of their own raising, there can be no doubt that it would be considered with kindness, as in other cases. But it must be remembered, that this is a function totally distinct from the endowment of a national university, out of the treasure of the United States, destined in its legitimate application, to other and very different purposes.
The message before the committee, proposes however, 'the institution of a seminary of learning by the national legislature, within the limits of their exclusive jurisdiction, the expense of which may be defrayed or reimbursed out of the vacant grounds which have accrued to the nation, within these limits.' quiring into the value of these public lots, they fall so far short of the sum requisite for the object, that if there was no constitutional impediment, they could not be relied upon, on account of the smallness and unproductiveness of the capital they embrace.
With these views of the subject, the committee does not find itself authorised to recommend the adoption of any measures, relative to the part of the message referred.
In behalf of the committee,
SAML. L. MITCHILL, Chairman.
FOR THE PORT FOLIO.—THE RECLUSE. No. II.
Mais pour moi, de la ville citoyen inhabile,
Il me faut du repos, des prez et des forêts,
Boileau, Epitre à M. De la Moignou.
In my accustomed way,, when the weather is fair, after tea, I picked up my wooden port-folio, or what I have ventured to christen my knee-desk, and took my usual ramble on the Range. This method of pursuing my studies, and at the same time, of inhaling the afternoon breezes from the surrounding hills, has become of so confirmed a habit with me, that it will be no matter of wonder at all, if hereafter, the monthly bulk of original matter in your Port Folio should be sensibly influenced by the use I make of mine. Whence, by a little step for a genius of a moderately speculative turn, it would be an easy matter for any of your readers, at a distance of many hundred miles, to ascertain, with indubitable clearness, what kind of weather has prevailed during every month of the three seasons favourable to walking, on the western side of the Beautiful River.* I drop without comment this hint for the improvement of the art of making meteorological observations at a distance-to be taken up on some future occasion, when the weather is fair; and no other subject shall present itself as a more suitable candidate to fill a number of my series.
At present, I have certainly other designs in my head, than to be led out into an eccentric or volatile excursion, according to the freak of the moment. For whilst I seated myself this evening, upon the oak-slab which has served me through all my ruminations this summer (in lieu of a more stylish settee) and was mending my pen, the subject of the present lucubration presented itself in waiting, and obtained my gracious consent to be dressed up and despatched to the metropolis. Wherefore, according to the order prescribed to myself for these occasions,
* Ohio signifies Beautiful.