www.williamgilbert.com: works - Back

PREFACE by William Gilbert, Esq.

to The Speech of George Washington, Esq. late President of the United States of America:
on his Resignation of that Important Office

LIFE is a Chemical Process: In that of every Individual there has been some new material thrown in, or a new mode has been adopted, of conducting the process; the result is always interesting; for the subject of the experiment is Man. We are now to view one of the most important results that ever the world produced, elaborated with ability, coolness, experience, and on the most extensive scale—It is that of GEORGE WASHINGTON’s Public Life.

The Expectation of the Good will not be disappointed; the Glory of the Great will not be sullied; the Diastole of Freedom will not be checked—but the thrones of fools will totter; for in this decisive experiment, Liberty has not risen in the form of Licentiousness; Indignation acting upon public evils and corruption has not subsided in Ambition; nor the combination of civil and military Power effervesced into Tyranny—A State may subsist in Liberty and subsist by Honesty.

In Processions of State, the greatest person closes the cavalcade. The History of the World has presented a long Pageant. In the progress of centuries, many menials bedecked with scarlet, purple, gold and silver, have, in their passage, been mistaken by the croud for kings; an edgeless sword pointing at the sky, has been called and supposed, the Sword of Justice; Sceptres, whose splendor was meant to dazzle the people, have been mistaken for the Rod of Power. The spectators were not aware of an axiom—that where the strength is, there is the King. Hence, Royalty was looked for, every where but in Man. They little were aware, that when they saw a King, he would be guarded without Guards; he would be splendid without Riches; he would be conspicuous without a Crown; he would be exalted without a Throne; he would be a Master without the contrast of Slaves; he would clear his way through crouds without a Sceptre; he would be listened to without a Trumpet, and establish his Royalty without a Herald.

‘The kings of the earth,’ then ‘are vanished; they are passed by together.’ Who remains? For that only, which cannot be shaken, shall remain. I shall quote Scripture, however uneasy it may make knaves, who pretend they are fighting for it. He, I say, remains to close the procession, who neither holds sword, nor any implement of war; who with the breath of his lips slays the wicked; around whom are not splendors, but clouds and darkness, and of whose Seat, Righteousness and Judgment are the Habitation. When all the trumpery of Pageant is past, there remains the sublimely naked character of Man, the high designation of the Son of Mannever to be shaken.

To those, who have been watching with zeal for the close of this Procession, exposed to a wet and stormy day, it will be news of comfort, that, from the frequent appearance of persons with many and deep traits of the Royal Character, not incidentally breaking in on the mob, nor meteorously flaming through the Pageant with inverted laws, but harmoniously arranged with it, and assuming a planetary motion in its System, ‘capable of maintaining the Relations of Peace and Amity—there is every reason to expect immediately the completion of their earnest hopes: Those who, believing, have not made haste and departed, supposing, that a puppet was a king; those who, though he has tarried, have waited for him, will see that at the End, he shall come and will not tarry.

It would be injustice to Mr. Washington’s Public Life not to rank it in Politics as

Fair Phosphor to the smiling morn
Of active Life and Bliss.

Miss Carter.

He has established his claim to the character of Man. Like the laurel fearless in lightnings, he will luxuriate in the shade: No longer the Head of his Fellow-Citizens, let him be the Heart!  To a State launched beyond speculation, and actually left by its Chief, poised on private and public honesty, recognizing Religion, in full organization and complete activity, it is impossible to refuse saying