Page images
PDF
EPUB

and happiness of communities. Such is frequently the forlune of the most brilliant military achievements. Of the ten thousand battles which have been fought; of all the fields fertilized with carnage ; of the banners which have been bathed in blood ; of the warriors who have hoped that they had risen from the field of conquest to a glory as bright and as durable as the stars, how few that continue long to interest mankind. The victory of yesterday is reversed by the defeat of to-day; the star of military glory, rising like a meteor, like a meteor has fallen; disgrace and disaster hang on the heels of conquest and renown ; victor and vanquished presently pass away to oblivion ; and the world goes on in its course, with the loss only of so may lives, and so much trea.

sure.

XXI.-THE GREAT EFFECTS OF MORAL POWER.

Extract from the same Oration."

It was said, my friends, by the Athenian commander,* on the morning of that decisive day, “ if we conquer, we shall make Athens the greatest city of Greece. A prophecy, how well fulfilled! “If God prosper us,” might have been the more appropriate language of our Pilgrim Fathers, when they landed, two hundred years ago, upon this Rock,t

“ If God prosper us,

we shall here begin a work which will last for ages; we shall plant here a new society, in the principles of the fullest liberty, and the purest religion : we shall sub

* This was Miltiades. On the morning of the battle at Marathon, the opinions of the Grecian generals were divided-some not advising an engagement, while others, ainong whom was Miltiades, warmly advocated it. In this juncture, it depended upon the officer called ó lohiyagxos. the Polemarch, to decide. Miltiades, therefore, ad. dressed him in the strongest language, advocating an immediate en. gagement ; and, in the course of his eloquent remarks, said ñy de περιγένηται αυτη η πόλις, οιη τι εστι πρώτη των Ελληνίδων πολίων γενέσθαιbut if, on the other hand, this city shall come off victorious, she will undoubtedly be the very first of all Greece.-Herodotus, Erato, cix.

+ The Rock of Plymouth.

zed man.

due this wilderness which is before us ; we shall fill this re. gion of the great continent, which stretches almost from pole to pole, with civilization and Christianity; the temples of the true God shall rise, where now ascends the smoke of idola. trous sacrifice ; fields and gardens, the flowers of summer, and the waving and golden harvests of autumn, shall extend over a thousand hills, and stretch along a thousand valleys, never yet, since the creation, reclaimed to the use of civili

We shall whiten this coast with the canvass of a prosperous commerce ; we shall stud the long and winding shore with a hundred cities. That which we sow in weakness shall be raised in strength. From our sincere but houseless worship, there shall spring splendid temples to record God's goodness ; from the simplicity of our social union, there shall arise wise and politic constitutions of govern. ment, full of the liberty which we ourselves bring and breathe ; from our zeal for learning, institutions shall spring, which shall scatter the light of knowledge throughout the land, and in time, paying back where they have borrowed, shall contribute their part to the great aggregate of human knowledge ; and our descendants, through all generations, shall look back to this spot, and to this hour, with unabated affection and regard.

XXII.—THE ATROCITY OF SLAVERY.

Extract from the same Oration.

I DEEM it my duty, on this occasion, my friends, to suggest that the land is not yet wholly free from the contamination of a traffic, at which every feeling of humanity must for ever revolt-I mean the African slave trade. Neither public sen. timent, nor the law, has yet been able entirely to put an end to this odious and abominable trade, At the moment when God, in his mercy, has blessed the Christian world with a universal peace, there is reason to fear, that, to the disgrace of the Christian name and character, new efforts are making for the extension of this trade, by subjects and citizens of Christian states, in whose hearts no sentiment of humanity or

justice inhabits, and over whom neither the fear of God nor the fear of man exercises a control. In the sight of our law, the African slave trader is a pirate and a felon ; and in the sight of heaven, an offender far beyond the ordinary depth of human guilt. There is no brighter part of our history, than that which records the measures which have been adopt. ed by the government, at an early day, and at different times since, for the suppression of this traffic; and I would call on all the true sons of New-England, to co-operate with the laws of man, and the justice of heaven.

If there be, within the extent of our knowledge or influ. ence, any participation in this traffic, let us pledge ourselves here, upon the Rock of Plymouth, to extirpate and destroy it. It is not fit that the land of the pilgrims should bear the shame longer. I hear the sound of the hammer-I see the smoke of the furnaces, where manacles and fetters are still forged for human limbs. I see the visages of those, who by stealth, and at midnight, labor in this work of hell, foul and dark, as may become the artificers of such instruments of misery and torture. Let that spot be purified, or let it cease to be of New-England. Let it be purified, or let it be set aside from the Christian world ; let it be put out of the circle of human sympathies and human regards ;

and let civilized' man henceforth have no communion with it.

XXIII.-AMERICA IN NINETEEN HUNDRED AND TWENTY.

Extract from the same Oration,

The hours of this day, my friends, are rapidly flying, and this occasion,-this centennial celebration of the landing of our Pilgrim Fathers,-will soon be passed. Neither we nor our children can expect to behold its return. They are in the Jistant regions of futurity, they exist only in the all-creating power of God, who shall stand here, an hundred years hence, to trace, through us, their descent from the Pilgrims, and to survey, as we have now surveyed, the progress of their country during the lapse of a century. We would anticipate their concurrence with us in our sentiments of deep regard for our

common ancestors. We would anticipate and partake the pleasure with which they will then recount the steps of New. England's advancement. On the morning of that day, although it will not disturb us in our repose, the voice of acclamation and gratitude, commencing on the rock of Plymouth, shall be transmitted through millions of the sons of the Pilgrims, till it lose itself in the murmurs of the Pacific

seas.

We would leave for the consideration of those who shall then occupy our places, some proof that we hold the bless. ings transmitted from our fathers in just estimation ; some proof of our attachment to the cause of good government, and of civil and religious liberty ; some proof of a sincere and ardent desire to promote every thing which may enlarge the understandings and improve the hearts of men. And when from the long distance of an hundred years, they shall look back upon us, they shall know, at least, that we possessed affections, which, running backward, and warming with grati. tude for what our ancestors have done for our happiness, run forward also to our posterity, and meet them with cordial salutation, ere yet they have arrived on the shore of being.

Advance, then, ye future generations! We would hail you, as you rise in your long succession, to fill the places which we now fill, and to taste the blessings of existence, where we are passing, and soon shall have passed our own human duration. We bid you welcome to this pleasant land of the fathers. We bid you welcome to the healthful skies, and the verdant field of New England. We greet your accession to the great inheritance which we have enjoyed. We welcome you to the blessings of good government and religious liberty. We welcome you to the treasures of science and the delights of learning. We welcome you to the transcendent sweets of domestic life, to the happiness of kindred, and parents, and children. We welcome you to the immeasurable blessings of rational existence, the immortal hope of Christianity, and the light of everlasting truth !

XXIV.--THE DANGER OF ALTERING THE CONSTITUTION.

Extract from Governeur Morris' Speech on the Judiciary, delivered in

the United States Senate, January 14, 1802.

Mr. President,—Is there a member of this house who can lay his hand on his heart and say, that consistently with the plain words of our constitution, we have a right to repeal this law ? I believe not. And if we undertake to construe this constitution to our purposes, and say that public opinion is to be our judge, there is an end to all constitutions. To what will not this dangerous doctrine lead? Should it to-day be the popular wish to destroy the first magistrate, you can destroy him : and should he to-morrow be able to conciliate to himself the will of the people, and lead them to wish for your destruction, it is easily effected. Adopt this principle, and the whim of the moment will not only be the law, but the constitution of our country.

Some, indeed, flatter themselves, that our destiny will be like that of Rome. Such, indeed, it might be, if we had the same wise, but vile aristocracy, under whose guidance they became the masters of the world. But we have not that strong aristocratic arm, which can seize a wretched citi. zen, scourged almost to death by a remorseless creditor, turn him into the ranks, and bid him, as a soldier, bear our eagle in triumph round the globe! I hope indeed we shall never have such an abominable institution. · But what, I ask, will be the situation of these states, (organized as they now are,) if, by the dissolution of our national compact, they be left to themselves ? What is the probable result? We shall either be the victims of foreign intrigue, and split into factions, fall under the domination of a foreign power, or else, after the misery and torment of civil war, become the subjects of an usurping military despot. What but this compact, what but this specific part of it, can save us from ruin?' The judicial power, that fortress of the constitution, is now to be over. turned. Yes, with honest Ajax, I would not only throw a shield before it, I would build around it a wall of brass. But I am too weak to defend the rampart against the host of as. sailants. I must call to my assistance their good sense, their patriotism, and their virtue. Do not, gentlemen, suffer the

« PreviousContinue »