Obrázky na stránke
PDF
ePub
[blocks in formation]

Affected pas

When public bodies are to be addressed on momentous occasions, when great interests are at stake, and strong passions excited, nothing is valuable, in speech, farther than it is connected with high intellectual and moral endowments. Clearness, force, and earnestness, are the qualities which produce conviction. True eloquence, indeed, does not consist in speech. It cannot be brought from far. Labor and learning may toil for it, but they will toil in vain. Words and phrases may be marshalled in every way, but they cannot compass it. It must exist in the man, in the subject, and in the occasion. sion, intense expression, the pomp of declamation, all may aspire after it—they cannot reach it. It comes, if it come at all, like the outbreaking of a fountain from the earth, or the bursting forth of volcanic fires, with spontaneous, original, native force. The graces taught in the schools, the costly ornaments, and studied contrivances of speech, shock and disgust men, when their own lives, and the fate of their wives, their children, and their country, hang on the decision of the hour. Then, words have lost their power, rhetoric is vain, and all elaborate oratory contemptible. Even genius itself then feels rebuked and subdued, as in the presence of higher qualities. Then, patriotism is eloquent; then, self-devotion is eloquent. The clear conception, outrunning the deductions of logic, the high purpose, the firm resolve, the dauntless spirit, speaking on the tongue, beaming from the eye, informing every feature, and urging the whole man onward, right onward to his object—this, this is eloquence: or rather it is something greater and higher than all eloquence, it is action, noble, sublime, godlike action.

[blocks in formation]

What are sufficient causes of war let no man say, let no legislator say, until the question of war is directly and inevitably before him. Jurists may be permitted with comparative safety o pile tome upon tome of interminable disquisition upon the motives, reasons, and causes of just and unjust war. Metaphysicians may be suffered with impunity to spin the thread of Cheir speculations until it is attenuated to a cobweb; but for a body created for the government of a great nation, and for the adjustment and protection of its infinitely diversified interests, it is worse than folly to speculate upon the causes of war, until the great question shall be presented for immediate actionuntil they shall hold the united question of cause, motive, and present expediency, in the very palm of their hands. War is a tremendous evil. Come when it will, unless it shall come in the necessary defence of our national security, or of that honor under whose protection national security reposes, it will come too soon—too soon for our national prosperity—too soon for our individual happiness—too soon for the frugal, industrious, and virtuous habits of our citizens—too soon, perhaps, for our most precious institutions. The man who for any cause, save the sacred cause of public security, which makes all wars defensive—the man who for any cause but this shall promote or compel this final and terrible resort, assumes a responsibility second to none, nay, transcendently deeper and higher than any, which man can assume before his fellow-men, or in the presence of God, his Creator.

3.

TRIBUTE TO WASHINGTON.Harrison.

Hard, hard indeed, was the contest for freedom, and the struggle for independence. The golden sun of liberty had nearly set in the gloom of an eternal night, ere its radiant beams · illumined our western horizon. Had not the tutelar saint of Columbia hovered around the American camp, and presided over her destinies, freedom must have met with an untimely grave. Never can we sufficiently admire the wisdom of those statesmen, and the skill and bravery of those unconquerable veterans, who, by their unwearied exertions in the cabinet and in the field, achieved for us the glorious revolution. Never can we duly appreciate the merits of a Washington, who, with but a handful of undisciplined yeomanry, triumphed over a royal army, and prostrated the lion of England at the feet of the American Eagle. His name,-so terrible to his foes, so welcome to his friends,-shall live for ever upon the brightest page of the historian, and be remembered with the warmest emotions of gratitude and pleasure by those whom he has contributed to make happy, and by all mankind, when kings, and princes, and nobles, for ages, shall have sunk into their merited oblivion. Unlike them, he needs not the assistance of the sculptor or the architect to perpetuate his memory : he needs no princely dome, no monumental pile, no stately pyramid, whose towering height shall pierce the stormy clouds, and rear its lofty head to heaven, to tell posterity his fame. His deeds, his worthy deeds, alone have rendered him immortal! When oblivion shall have swept away thrones, kingdoms, and principalities—when every vestige of human greatness, and grandeur, and glory, shall have mouldered into dust, and the last period of time become extinct -eternity itself shall catch the glowing theme, and dwell with increasing rapture on his name!

4.

NECESSITY OF RESISTANCE.Henry.

They tell us, that we are weak, unable to cope with so fora midable an adversary. But when shall we be stronger ? Will it be the next week, or the next year? Will it be when we are totally disarmed, and when a British guard shall be stationed in every house ? Shall we gather strength by irresolution, and inaction ? Shall we acquire the means of effectual resistance, by lying supinely on our backs, and hugging the delusive phantom of hope, until our enemies shall have bound us hand and foot ? Sir, we are not weak, if we make a proper use of those means which the God of nature hath placed in our power. Three millions of people, armed in the holy cause of liberty, and in such a country as that which we possess, are invincible by any force which our enemy can send against us. Besides, sir, we shall not fight our battles alone. There is a just God, who presides over the destinies of nations; and who will raise up friends to fight our battles for us, The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone, it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave. Besides, sir, we have no election. If we were base enough to desire it, it is now too late to retire from the contest. There is no retreat, but in submission and slavery. Our chains are forged. Their clanking may be heard on the plains of Boston. The war is inevitable, and let it come! I repeat it, sir, let it come! It is in vain, sir, to extenuate the matter. Gentlemen may cry peace, peace! but there is no peace. The war is actually begun! The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field ! Why stand we here idle ? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have ? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery ? Forbid it Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me-give me liberty ; or give me death !

5.

CHARACTER OF PATRIOTIC TRIUMPH.

:-Maxcy.

The citizens of America celebrate that day which gave birth to their liberties. The recollection of this event, replete with consequences so beneficial to mankind, swells every heart with joy and fills every tongue with praise. We celebrate not the sanguinary exploits of a tyrant to subjugate and enslave millions of his fellow-creatures; we celebrate neither the birth nor the coronation of that phantom styled a king; but the resurrection of liberty, the emancipation of mankind, the regeneration of the world. These are the sources of our joy, these the causes of our triumph. We pay no homage at the tomb of kings, to sublime our feelings—we trace no line of illustrious ancestors to support our dignity—we recur to no usages, sanctioned by the authority of the great, to protect our rejoicing ;no, we love liberty, we glory in the rights of men, we glory in independence. On whatever part of God's creation a human form pines under chains, there Americans drop their tears.

A dark cloud once shaded this beautiful quarter of the globe. Consternation for awhile agitated the hearts of the inhabitants. War desolated our fields, and buried our vales in blood. But the day-spring from on high soon opened upon us its glittering portals. The angel of liberty descending, dropped on Washington's brow the wreath of victory, and stamped on American freedom the seal of omnipotence. The darkness is past, and the true light now shines to enliven and rejoice mankind. We tread a new earth, in which dwelleth righteousness; and view a new heaven, flaming with inextinguishable stars. Our feet will no more descend into the vale of oppressions; our shoulders will no more bend under the weight of a foreign domination as cruel as it was unjust. Well may we rejoice at the return of this glorious anniversary; a day dear to every American; a day to be had in everlasting remembrance; a day whose light circulates joy through 'the hearts of all republicans, and terror through the hearts of all tyrants.

6.

INFLUENCE OF THE PRINCIPLES OF AMERICAN GOVERN

MENT.- -Webster.

to us.

Our country stands, at the present time, on commanding ground. Older nations, with different systems of government, may be somewhat slow to acknowledge all that justly belongs

But we may feel, without vanity, that America is doing her part in the great work of improving human affairs. There are two principles, gentlemen, strictly and purely American, which are now likely to overrun the civilized world. Indeed, they seem the necessary result of the progress of civilization and knowledge. These are, first, popular governments, restrained by written constitutions; and, secondly, universal education. Popular governments and general education, acting and reacting, mutually producing and reproducing each other, are the mighty agencies which, in our days, appear to be exciting, stimulating, and changing civilized societies. Man, everywhere, is now found demanding a participation in government —and he will not be refused; and he demands knowledge as nécessary to self-government. On the basis of these two principles, liberty and knowledge, our own American systems rest. Thus far, we have not been disappointed in their results. Our existing institutions, raised on these foundations, have conferred on us almost unmixed happiness. As parents, do we wish for our children better government or better laws ? As members of society, as lovers of our country, is there any thing we can desire for it better than, that, as ages and centuries roll over it, it may possess the same invaluable institutions which it now enjoys ? For my part, gentlemen, I can only say, that I desire to thank the beneficent Author of all good, for being born where I was born, and when I was born ; that the portion of human existence, allotted to me, has been meted out to me in this goodly land, and at this interesting period.

« PredošláPokračovať »