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lords of the soil, these first hardy adventurers derived their title to the lands on which they settled, and, in some degree, prepared the way by the arts of civilization and peace; for the main body of the Colonists of Massachusetts came under Governor Winthrop, who, two years afterward, by a coincidence which you will think worth naming, arrived in Mystic River, and pitched his patriarchal tent on Ten Hills, upon the seventeenth day of June, 1630. Massachusetts at that moment consisted of six huts at Salem and one at this place. It seems but a span of time as the mind ranges over it. A venerable individual is living, at the seat of the first settlement, whose life covers one-half of the entire period; but what a destiny has been unfolded before our country! what events bave crowded your annals! what scenes of thrilling interest and eternal glory have sigmalized the very spot where we stand! In that unceasing march of things, which calls forward the successive generations of men to perform their part on the stage of life, we at length are summoned to appear. Our fathers have passed their hour of visitation—how worthily, let the growth and prosperity of our happy land and the security of our firesides attest. Or, if this appeal be too weak to move us, let the eloquent silence of yonder famous heights—let the column which is there rising in simple majesty—recall their venerable forms, as they toiled in the hasty trenches through the dreary watches of that might of expectation, heaving up the sods, where many of them lay in peace and honor before the following sun had set. The turn has come to us. The trial of adversity was theirs; the trial of prosperity is ours. Let us meet it as men who know their duty and prize their blessings. Our position is the most enviable, the most responsible, which men can fill. If this generation does its duty, the cause of constitutional freedom is safe. If we fail—if we fail, not only do we defraud our children of the inheritance which we received from our fathers, but we blast the hopes of the friends of liberty throughout our continent, throughout Europe, throughout the world, to the end of time.
History is not without her examples of hard-fought fields, where the banner of liberty has floated triumphantly on the wildest storm of battle. She is without her examples of a people by whom the dear-bought treasure has been wisely employed and safely handed down. The eyes of the world are turned for that example to us. It is related by an ancient historian, of that Brutus who slew Caesar, that he threw himself on his sword after the disastrous battle of Philippi, with the bitter exclamation, that he had followed virtue as a substance, but found it a name. It is not too much to say, that there are, at this moment, noble spirits in the elder world, who are anxiously watching the practical operation of our institutions, to learn whether liberty, as they have been told, is a mockery, a pretence, a curse—or a blessing, for which it became them to brave the scaffold and the cimeter.
Let us then, as we assemble on the birthday of the nation, as wo gather upon the green turf, once wet with precious blood—let us devote ourselves to the sacred cause of Constitutional Liberty! Let us abjure the interests and passions which divide the great family of American freemen! Let the rage of party spirit sleep to-day! Let us resolve that our children shall have cause to bless the memory of their fathers, as we have cause to bless the memory of ours!
RUF US CHOATE
Rufus CHOATE was born in Essex County, Massachusetts, in 1799. He
graduated from Dartmouth College in 1819, was admitted to the bar in 1823, and, next to Daniel Webster, reached the highest place in the profession attained by any contemporary lawyer in New England. He was sent to Congress as a representative of Massachusetts in 1830, and re-elected two years later. When Daniel Webster became Secretary of State in Harrison’s Cabinet, Choate took Webster’s place in the Senate, and retained it until 1845. He died at Halifax, Nova Scotia, in 1859.
BOOKS AND CIVILIZATION IN AMERICA
FROM A SPEECH ON THE SMITHSONIAN INSTITUTE DELIVERED IN THE UNITED StATES SENATE
T IS easy to waste this money; it is easy to squander | it in jobs, salaries, quackeries; it is easy, even under the forms of utility, to disperse and dissipate it in little rills and drops, imperceptible to all human sense, carrying it off by an insensible and ineffectual evaporation. But, sir, I take it that we all earnestly desire—I am sure the Senator from Ohio does desire—so to dispense it as to make it tell. I am sure we all desire to see it, instead of being carried off invisibly and wastefully, embody itself as an exponent of civilization, permanent, palpable, conspicuous, useful. And to this end it has seemed to me, upon the most nature reflection, that we cannot do a safer, surer, more unexceptional thing with the income, or with a portion of the income, perhaps twenty thousand dollars a year for a
few years, than to expend it in accumulating a grand and (67) § 4–Orations—Vol. VIII.
noble public library—one which for variety, extent, and wealth shall be, and be confessed to be, equal to any now in the world. I say for a few years. Twenty thousand dollars a year, for twenty-five years, are five hundred thousand dollars; and five hundred thousand dollars discreetly expended, not by a bibliomaniac, but by a man of sense and reading thoroughly instructed in bibliography, would go far, very far, toward the purchase of nearly as good a library as Europe can boast. I mean a library of printed books, as distinct from manuscripts. Of course, such a sum would not pur. chase the number of books which some old libraries are reported to contain. It would not buy the 700,000 of the Royal Library at Paris, the largest in the world; nor the 500,000 or 600,000 of that of Munich, the largest in Germany; nor the 300,000 or 400,000 or 500,000 of those of Vienna and St. Petersburg, and the Vatican at Rome, and Copenhagen, and the Bodleian at Oxford. But mere num. bers of volumes afford a very imperfect criterion of value. Those old libraries have been so long in collecting; accident and donation, which could not be rejected, have contributed so much to them; a general and indiscriminate system of accumulation gathers up, necessarily, so much trash; there are so many duplicates and quadruplicates, and so many books and editions, which become superseded, that mere bulk and mere original cost must not terrify us. Ponderantur, non numerantur. Accordingly the Library of the University of Göttingen, consisting perhaps of two hundred and fifty thousand or three hundred thousand volumes, but well chosen, selected, for the most part, within a century, and to a considerable extent by a single great scholar, Heyne, is perhaps to-day as valuable a collection of printed books as any in the world. Toward the accumulation of such a library, the expenditure of two-thirds of this income for a quarter of a century would make, let me say, a magnificent advance. And such a step taken, we should never have the work unfinished; yet when it should be finished, and your library should rival anything which civilization has ever had to show, there would still be the whole principal of your fund unexpended, yielding its income forever, for new and varying applications for increasing and diffusing knowledge in the world. I hesitate, from an apprehension of being accused of entering too far into a kind of dissertation unsuited to this assembly of men of business, to suggest and press one-half the considerations which satisfy my mind of the propriety of this mode of expenditure. Nobody can doubt, I think, that it comes within the terms and spirit of the trust. That directs us to “increase and diffuse knowledge among men.” And do not the judgments of all the wise; does not the experience of all enlightened States; does not the whole history of civilization, concur to declare that a various and ample library is one of the surest, most constant, most permanent, and most economical instrumentalities to increase and diffuse knowledge 2 There it would be—durable as liberty, durable as the Union; a vast storehouse, a vast treasury of all the facts which make up the history of man and of nature, so far as that history has been written; of all the truths which the inquiries and experiences of all the races and ages have found out; of all the opinions that have been promulgated; of all the emotions, images, sentiments, examples from all the richest and most instructive literatures; the whole past speaking to the present and the future; a silent, yet wise and eloquent teacher; dead, yet