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IN presenting to the public this collection of Mr. Otis' LETTERS upon the Hartford Convention, we do him no more than justice in declaring our conviction that he has amply redeemed his promises. He has demonstrated not merely the moral, but the physical impossibility of a secret combination, so often charged on that assembly; and though obliged to refer to facts and events which transpired during the war, he has forborne reviving topics of controversy, and has provided an armour for the defence of the honor of the State, which even his political opponents need not be backward to put on. Expectation too may be entertained that the brow beaten and calculating friends of the primitive plan of the Convention, (if any such there be) who have kept aloof and borne with exemplary fortitude censures inflicted on their agents, will no longer be ashamed or afraid to put in a word, though a commendable prudence may forbid their taking up a Cudgel in behalf of their old Forlorn Hope.
The censors of the Hartford Convention may be divided into three classes. First the “Enragées," or those who affect to be patriots "par excellence.” They are like all pretenders to excessive virtue in both sexes, much to be suspected-persons, to whom, as Lord Bacon says, "the mixture of a lie doth ever add pleasure;" and whose minds, “if there were
"taken out, vain opinions, flattering hopes, false 66 valuations, imaginations as one would, and the (like, would be left poor, shrunken things.” They love fiction, which his lordship calls 6 Vinum Dæmonum.” In the brewing of this adulterated “ Vinum," the Hartford plot is a principal ingredient, and as the DÆMOnes cannot live without it, we must let them continue brewing.
There is in the second place a much larger and more respectable description of prejudiced persons, whom the writer of the letters has apparently aimed to disabuse-men who think ill of the Convention, who are of fair minds and sound understandings, but whose pride of opinion will not yield without a struggle. Such persons are humbled in discovering themselves to have been dupes to a mere fictionthat what they have regarded as a “BLUE LIGHT” was a mere ignis fatuus, and that the Pandemonium of Hartford was harmless as a Quaker meeting. To these persons it may be a consolation to know that their case is not absolutely new; and though even with the aid of Matthew Carey's Vindiciæ, it is impossible to refer them to the story of any false plot, the belief in which, like that of the one in question, was current upon no evidence whatever; yet instances are not wanting to shew that the disease of the imagination is sometimes epidemical, and that good sense affords no protection against it, when the predisposition to it is strong. Of this the history of animal magnetism is a striking illustration. According to the discoverer of the system, there is 66 a fluid universally diffused and filling all space, being the medium of a reciprocal influence between the celes
tial bodies, the earth and living beings.” One great conductor of this animal magnetism was sound. Vast numbers of persons surrounding an iron chest in circles, were magnetized by a tune upon a forte piano—by hearing each others' voices, touching each others' thumbs, holding the same string, and even in different apartments, without any contact whatsover. By this means they experienced various sorts of convulsions, were cured, or thought themselves so, of divers maladies, and were affected by almost every variety of agitation, and of the heats and colds, which are common in popular assemblies and governments, and are produced in the same way, by the magnetism of sympathy. This imposture was gravely upheld by ingenious and scientific writers, (superior, with respect be it spoken, to the Dæmones) and believed by thousands; and such was the general excitement even in Paris, that a commission was instituted, of which Doctor Franklin was one, which was occupied many days, and in regular sittings, in trying to detect and explode it. When, therefore, we find sensible persons believing in the diffusion of this animal magnetism, by the contact of thumbs, ropes, and wires, and the percussion of sound upon the atmosphere, it requires no great stretch of imagination beyond this, to conceive that the Legislatures of Massachusetts, Connecticut, and other States, might have been magnetized with a plot-making sympathy-and as the one was propagated by sound from room to room, why might not the other have found its way from State to State by the Gostill voice” of newspapers or other invisible mediums, among those who were pulling the same string!