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prepared the way for events which again, and with still more rigour, threatened for ever to annihilate all the hopes even of the most sanguine friends of the great cause of mankind.
Treason of Arnold-Capture and Death of Andre.
The close of the year seventeen hundred and eighty was distinguished by the discovery and defeat of a conspiracy that, had it succeeded, might have long deferred, if not put a final period to, the hope of independence. Arnold, who had distinguished himself on various occasions as a brave, active, and skilful officer, was now about to become more infamously immortal by betraying the country which he had so gallantly defended. Had he pursued the bright track in which he commenced his career, through all the vicissitudes of the struggle, he might have left behind him a name second to Washington alone in the military annals of the revolution. But he preferred to stand first in the records of infamy; to live alone in ignominious solitude, as the only traitor that deforms the pages of our history. He was a great soldier, but not an honest man. He possessed the talents to serve his country, but
was without that virtue which is the only true basis of illustrious actions. He could resist the enemies of his country, but not
He wanted the firmness to be prudent, and the integrity to overcome those temptations which imprudence throws in every man's way. He incurred debts, and sold himself and his country, not to pay them, but to procure the means of new extravagance.
He finally fell into the bottomless pit of infamy; and no one pitied a man who was false to his country, with the example of Washington before him. His fate ought never to be forgotten, because it furnishes incontestible evidence, that without integrity and prudence no man can ever become truly great. He may rise to a certain height, but like the youth in classic fable, the moment he approaches the sunbeams of temptation, the wax of his wings will melt, and he will fall, never to rise again.
He who is despised or hated by his schoolfellows, will seldom live to be respected or beloved by men. The bud that is cankered by the worm produces no full-blown rose; and the worthless child becomes the villain man. It appears, from subsequent investigations, that Arnold was an evil-disposed boy, and equally hated and feared by his associates. He was a tyrant and a traitor at the same time. He deceived them into confidence, and then punished them for their credulity. He led them into transgression, and became their accuser. My young readers may be almost sure, that he who in his youth pursues such a course as this, will end in guilt and crime. He may never be in a situation, like Arnold, to betray his country, but in whatever condition he may be placed, he will be equally mischievous and worthless. To check the earliest bend of the young plant is the only way to make it an upright and stately tree.
The vain prodigality of Arnold produced the want of money, and placed him in the way of temptation ; for the clamours of the creditor are the whoopings of the owl, foreboding mischief and ruin. His wants led him to have recourse, while in Philadelphia, to the most irregular and unbecoming means of supplying them. This brought him into collision with the authorities of Pennsylvania, and under the censures of Congress. He demanded a trial, and was sentenced to be reprimanded by Washington. He possessed not the pride of
integrity, but had his full share of that baser substitute which shrinks, not from the commission, but the exposure of crime. That pride was deeply wounded, and the mild lesson he received from his virtuous commander, instead of operating in favour of his reform, only determined him to deeper and darker transgressions.
It appears that either before, or shortly afterwards, he invited a correspondence with the British in New-York, and only waited to become worth buying to propose the purchase to Sir Henry Clinton.
That opportunity offered itself when, at his solicitation, he was placed in command of the post of West Point, which was not only the key to the Highlands, but at that time the head quarters of the American army, and the very stronghold of liberty. It was now that Arnold meditated the final consummation of his treason. junction with Major John Andre, adjutant-general of the British army, he matured a plan, which, had it been successfully executed, would in all probability have eventuated in the
capture of the entire army, and all the military stores deposited at - West Point. Sir Henry