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er's arms, couchless but for a mother's breast, till our own blood almost freezes.
Let us rejoice that we behold this day. Let us be thankful that we have lived to see the bright and happy breaking of the auspicious morn which commences the third century of the History of New England. Auspi. cious indeed! bringing an happiness beyond the common allotment of providence to men, full of present joy, and gilding with bright beams the prospect of futurity, is the dawn that awakens us to the commemoration of the landing of the Pilgrims.
Living at an epoch which naturally marks the pro. gress of the History of our native land, we have come hither to celebrate the great event with which that His. tory commenced. For ever honored be this, the place of our fathers' refuge! For ever remembered the day which saw them, wearied and distressed, broken in every thing but spirit,' poor in all but faith and courage, at last secure from the dangers of wintry seas, and impressing this shore with the first footsteps of civilized man.
It is a noble faculty of our nature, which enables us to connect our thoughts, our sympathies, and our happi. ness with what is distant in place or time ; and, looking before and after, to hold communion at once with our an. cestors and our posterity, Human and mortal though we are, we are, nevertheless, not more isolated beings, without relation to the past or the future. Neither the
point of time, nor the spot of earth in which we physically live, bounds our rational and intellectual enjoyments. We live in the past, by a knowledge of its history i and in the future, by hope and anticipation. By ascend. ing to an association with our ancestors; by contem. plating their examples and studying their character; by partaking their sentiments, and imbibing their spirit; by accompanying them in their toils, by sympathizing in their sufferings, and rejoicing in their successes and their triumphs; we mingle our own existence with theirs, and seem to belong to their age. We become their contemporaries, live the lives which they lived, endure what they endured, and partake in the rewards which they enjoyed. And in like manner, by running along the line of future time, by contemplating the probable fortunes of those who are coming after us; by attempting something which may promote their happiness, and leave some, not dishonorable, memorial of ourselves for their regard when we shall sleep with the fathers, we protract our own earthly being, and seem to crowd whatever is future, as well as that which is past, into the narrow com. pass of our earthly existence. As it is not a vain and false, but an exalted and religious imagination, which leads us to raise our thoughts from the orb which, amidst this universe of worlds, the Creator has given us to in. habit, and to send them with something of the feeling which nature prompts, and teaches to be proper among children of the same Eternal Parent, to the contemplation of the myriads of fellow-beings with which his goodness has peopled the infinity of space; so neither is it false or vain to coosider ourselves as interested, and connect. ed with our race through all time; allied to our ances.
tors, allied to our posterity, closely compacted on all sides with others; ourselves being but links in the great chain of being, which begins with the origin of our race, runs onward through its successive generations, binding together the past, the present, and the future, and termi. nating at last, with the consummation of all things earth. ly, at the throne of God.
There have been battles which have fixed the fate of nations. These come down to us in history, with a solemn and permanent interest not created by a display of glittering armor, the rush of adverse battalions, the sinking and rising of pennons, the flight, the pursuit and the victory ; but by their effect in advancing or retarding human knowledge, in overthrowing or establishing despo. tism, in extending or destroying human happiness. When the traveller pauses on the plains of Marathon, what are the emotions which most strongly agitate his breast? What is that glorious recollection, which thrills through his frame and suffuses his eyes ? Not, I imagine, that Grecian skill and Grecian valor were here most signally displayed; but that Greece herself was here saved. It is because to this spot, and to the event which has ren. dered it immortal, he refers all the succeeding glories of the republic. It is because, if that day had gone other. wise, Greece had perished. It is because he perceives that her philosophers and orators, her poets and painters her sculptors and architects, her governments and free institutions, point backward to Marathon ; and that their future existence seems to have been suspended on the contingency, whether the Persian or the Grecian banner
should wave victorious in the beams of that day's setting
And as his imagination kindles at the retrospect, he is transported back to the interesting moment; he counts the fearful odds of the contending hosts; his interest for the result overwhelms him ; he trembles as if it were still uncertain, and seems to doubt whether he may consider Socrates, and Plato, Demosthenes, Sopho. cles, and Phidias, as secure yet.to himself and to the world.
Europe, within the same period, has been agitated by a mighty revolution, which, while it has been felt in the individual condition and happiness of almost every man, has shaken to the centre her political fabric, and dashed against one another thrones which had stood tranquil
We know, indeed, that the record of illustrious actions is most safely deposited in the universal remembrance of mankind. We know, that if we would cause this struc. ture to ascend, not only till it reached the skies, but till it pierced them, its broad surface would still contain but part of that which, in an age of knowledge, hath already been spread over the earth, and which History charges itself with making known to all future times. We know that no inscription on tablatures, less broad than the earth itself, can carry information of the events we commemorate where it has not already gone ; and that no structure which shall not outlive the duration of let. ters and knowledge among men, can prolong the memo. rial. But our object is, by this edifice to show our own
deep sense of the value and importance of the achieve. ments of our ancestors ; and by presenting this work of gratitude to the eye, to keep alive similar sentiments, and to foster a constant regard for the principles of the Revolution. Human beings are composed, not of reason only, but of imagination also, and sentiment; and that is neith. er wasted nor misapplied which is appropriated to the purpose of giving right direction to sentiments, and opening proper springs of feeling in the heart. Let it not be supposed that our object is to perpetuate national hostility, or even to cherish a mere military spirit. It is higher, purer, nobler. We consecrate our work to the spirit of national independence, and we wish that the light of peace may rest on it for ever. We rear a memorial of our conviction of that unmeasured benefit which has been conferred on our own land, and of the happy influences which have been produced by the same events on the general interests of mankind. We come as Americans to mark a spot which must for ever be dear to us and our posterity. We wish that whosoever, in all coming time, shall turn his eye hither, may behold that the place is not undistinguished where the first great battle of the Revolution was fought. We wish that this structure may proclaim the magnitude and im. portance of that event to every class and every age. We wish that infancy may learn the purpose of its erection from maternal lips, and that weary and withered age may behold it, and be solaced by the recollections which it suggests. We wish that labor may look up here, and be proud in the midst of its toil. We wish that in those days of disaster, which, as they come on all na. tions, must be expected to come on us also, desponding