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Let us hope that that fear of heaven, which expels all other fear, and that regard to duty, which transcends all other regard, may influence public men and private citizens, and lead our country still onward in her happy career. Full of these gratifying anticipations and hopes, let us look forward to the end of that century which is now commenced. And may the disciples of Washington then see, as we now see, the flag of the Union floating on the top of the capitol ; and then, as now, may the sun in his course visit no land more free, more happy, more lovely, than this our own country!
IMPRESSIONS DERIVED FROM THE STUDY OF HISTORY.
The study of the history of most other nations, fills the mind with sentiments not unlike those which the American traveler feels on entering the venerable and lofty cathedral of some proud old city of Europe. Its solenın grandeur, its vastness, its obscurity, strike awe to the heart. From the richly-painted windows, filled with sacred emblems and strange antique forms, a dim religious light falls around. A thousand recollections of romance, and poetry, and legendary story, come crowding in upon him. He is surrounded by the tombs of the mighty dead, rich with the labors of ancient art, and emblazoned with the pomp of heraldry.
What names does he read upon them? Those of princes and nobles who are now remembered only for their vices, and of sovereigns, at whose death no tears were shed, and whose memories lived not an hour in the affections of their people.There, too, he sees other names, long familiar to him for their guilty or ambiguous fame. There rest, the blood-stained soldier of fortune—the orator, who was ever the ready apologist of tyranny-great scholars, who were the pensioned flatterers of power—and poets, who profaned their heaven-gifted talent to pamper the vices of a corrupted court.
Our own history, on the contrary, like that poetical temple of fame, which was reared by the imagination of Chaucer, and decorated by the taste of Pope, is almost exclusively dedicated to the memory of the truly great. Or rather, like the Pantheon of Rome, it stands in calm and severe beauty amid the ruins of ancient magnificence and “the toys of modern state.” Within, no idle ornament encumbers its bold simplicity. The pure light of heaven enters from above and sheds an equal and serene radiance around. As the eye wanders about its extent, it beholds the unadorned monuments of brave and good men who have greatly bled or toiled for their country, or it rests on votive tablets inscribed with the names of the best benefactors of mankind.
Yesland of liberty! thy children have no cause to blush for thee. What though the arts have reared no monuments among us, and scarce a trace of the muse's footstep is found in the paths of our forest, or along the banks of our rivers ; yet our soil has been consecrated by the blood of heroes, and by great and holy deeds of peace. Its wide extent has become one vast temple and hallowed asylum, sanctified by the prayers and blessings of the persecuted of every sect, and the wretched of all nations. Land of refuge-land of benedictions ! Those prayers
still arise, and they still are heard. May peace be within thy walls and plenteousness within thy palaces ;" "May there be no decay, no leading into captivity, and no complaining in thy streets ;"
May truth flourish out of the earth, and righteousness look down from heaven."
IMPORTANCE OF PRESERVING THE UNION.-Webster.
I profess, sir, in my career hitherto, to have kept steadily in view the prosperity and honor of the whole country, and the preservation of our federal union. It is to that union we owe our safety at home, and our consideration and dignity abroad. It is to that union that we are chiefly indebted for whatever makes us most proud of our country. That union we reached, only by the discipline of our virtues, in the severe school of adversity. It had its origin in the necessities of disordered finance, prostrate commerce, and ruined credit. Under its benign influences, these great interests immediately awoke, as from the dead, and sprang forth with newness of life. Every year of its duration has teemed with fresh proofs of its utility and its blessings; and although our territory has stretched out, wider and wider, and our population spread farther and farther, they have not outrun its protection, or its benefits. It has been to us all a copious fountain of national, social, and personal happiness.
I have not allowed myself, sir, to look beyond the union, to see what might lie hidden in the dark recess behind. I have not coolly weighed the chances of preserving liberty, when the bonds that unite us together shall be broken asunder. I have
not accustomed myself to hang over the precipice of disunion, to see whether, with my short sight, I can fathom the depth of the abyss below; nor could I regard him as a safe counselor in the affairs of this government, whose thoughts should be mainly bent on considering, not how the union should be best preserved, but how tolerable might be the condition of the people when it shall be broken up and destroyed.
While the union lasts, we have high, exciting, gratifying prospects spread out before us, for us and our children. 'Beyond that I seek not to penetrate the veil. God grant that, in my day, at least, that curtain may not rise. God grant, that on my vision never may be opened what lies behind. When my eyes shall be turned to behold, for the last time, the sun in heaven, may I not see him shining on the broken and dishonored fragments of a once glorious union; on states dissevered, discordant, belligerent; on a land rent with civil feuds, or drenched, it may be, in fraternal blood! Let their last feeble and lingering glance, rather, behold the gorgeous ensign of the republic, now known and honored throughout the earth, still full high advanced, its arms and trophies streaming in their original lustre, not a stripe erased or polluted, nor a single star obscured-bearing for its motto, no such miserable interrogatory as -What is all this worth? Nor those other words of delusion and follyliberty first, and union afterwards—but every where, spread all over in characters of living light, blazing on all its ample folds as they float over the sea and over the land, and in every wind under the whole heavens, that other sentiment dear to every true American heart—liberty and union, now and for ever, one and inseparable!
Sir,–We are apt to treat the idea of our own corruptibility, as utterly visionary, and to ask, with a grave affectation of dignity-what! do you think a member of congress can be corrupted? Sir, I speak what I have long and deliberately considered, when I say, that since man was created, there never has been a political body on the face of the earth, that would not be corrupted under the same circumstances. Corruption steals upon us in a thousand insidious forms, when we are least aware of its approaches. Of all the forms in which it can present itself, the bribery of office is the most dangerous, because it assumes the guise of patriotism to accomplish its fatal sorcery. We are often asked, where is the evidence of corruption ? Have you seen it? Sir, do you expect to see it? You might as well expect to see the embodied forms of pestilence and famine stalking before you, as to see the latent operations of this insidious power.
We may walk amidst it and breathe its contagion, without being conscious of its presence. All experience teaches us the irresistible power of temptation, when vice assumes the form of virtue. The great enemy of mankind could not have consummated his infernal scheme for the seduction of our first parents, but for the disguise in which he presented himself. Had he appeared as the devil, in his proper form ; had the spear of Ithuriel disclosed the naked de. formity of the fiend of hell
, the inhabitants of paradise would have shrunk with horror from his presence.
But he came as the insinuating serpent, and presented a beautiful apple, the most delicious fruit in all the garden. He told his glowing story to the unsuspecting victim of his guile. “It can be no crime to taste of this delightful fruit. It will disclose to you the knowledge of good and evil. It will raise you to an equality with the angels.” Such, sir, was the process; and in this simple but impressive narrative, we have the most beautiful and philosophical illustration of the frailty of man, and the power of temptation, that could possibly be exhibited. Mr. Chairman, I have been forcibly struck with the similarity between our present situation and that of Eve, after it was announced that Satan was on the borders of paradise. We, too, have been warned that the enemy is on our borders. But God forbid that the similitude should be carried any farther. Eve, conscious of her innocence, sought temptation and defied it. The catastrophe is too fatally known to us all. She went, “ with the blessings of heaven on her head, and its purity in her heart," guarded by the ministry of angels—she returned, covered with shame, under the heavy denunciation of heaven's everlasting
Sir, it is innocence that temptation conquers. If our first parent, pure as she came from the hand of God, was overcome by the seductive power, let us not imitate her fatal rashness, seeking temptation, when it is in our power to avoid it. Let us not vainly confide in our own infallibility. We are liable to be corrupted. To an ambitious man, an honorable office will appear as beautiful and fascinating as the apple of paradise.
I admit, sir, that ambition is a passion, at once the most powerful and the most useful. Without it, human affairs would become a mere stagnant pool. By means of his patronage, the president addresses himself in the most irresistible manner,
this, the noblest and strongest of our passions. All that the imagination can desire-honor, power, wealth, ease, are held out as the temptation. Man was not made to resist such temptations. It is impossible to conceive, Satan himself could not devise, a system which would more infallibly introduce corruption and death into our political Eden. Sir, the angels fell from heaven with less temptation.
33. NATIONAL RECOLLECTIONS THE FOUNDATION OF NATIONAL
How is the spirit of a free people to be formed, and ani. mated, and cheered, but out of the store-house of its historic recollections! Are we to be eternally ringing the changes upon Marathon and Thermopylæ; and going back to read in obscure texts of Greek and Latin, of the exemplars of patriotic virtue? I thank God that we can find them nearer home, in our own country, on our own soil ;—that strains of the noblest sentiment that ever swelled in the breast of man, are breathing to us out of every page of our country's history, in the native eloquence of our mother tongue ;—that the colonial and provincial councils of America exhibit to us models of the spirits and character which gave Greece and Rome their name and their praise among nations. Here we ought to go for our instruction ;—the lesson is plain, it is clear, it is applicable. When we go to ancient history, we are bewildered with the difference of manners and institutions. We are willing to pay our tribute of applause to the memory of Leonidas, who fell nobly for his country in the face of his foe. But when we trace him to his home, we are confounded at the reflection, that the same Spartan heroism, to which he sacrificed himself at Thermopylæ, would have led him to tear his own child, if it had happened to be a sickly babe,—the very object for which all that is kind and good in man rises up to plead, -from the bosom of its mother, and carry it out to be eaten by the wolves of Taygetus. We feel a glow of admiration at the heroism displayed at Marathon, by the ten thousand champions of invaded Greece; but we cannot forget that the tenth part of the number were slaves, unchained from the work-shops and doorposts of their masters, to go and fight the battles of freedom. I do not mean that these examples are to destroy the interest with which we read the history of ancient times; they possibly increase that interest by the very contrast they exhibit. But