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transmission of property, in that country, now divides it, real and personal, among all the children, equally, both sons and daughters; and that there is, also, a very great restraint on the power of making dispositions of property by will. It has been supposed, that the effects of this might probably be, in time, to break up the soil into such small subdivisions, that the proprietors would be too poor to resist the encroachments of executive power. I think far otherwise. What is lost in individual wealth, will be more than gained in numbers, in intelligence, and in a sympathy of sentiment. If, indeed, only one, or a few landholders were to resist the crown, like the barons of England, they must, of course, be great and powerful landholders with multitudes of retainers, to promise success. But if the proprietors of a given extent of territory are summoned to resistance, there is no reason to believe that such resistance would be less forcible, or less successful, because the number of such proprietors should be great. Each would perceive his own importance, and his own interest, and would feel that natural elevation of character which the consciousness of property inspires. A common sentiment would unite all, and numbers would not only add strength, but excite enthusiasm. It is true, that France possesses a vast military force, under the direction of an hereditary executive government, and military power, it is possible, may overthrow any government. It is in vain, however, in this period of the world, to look for security against military power, to the arm of the great land. holders. That notion is derived from a state of things long since past; a state in which a feudal baron, with his retainers, might stand nst the sovereign, who was himself but the greatest baron, and his retainers. But at present, what could the richest landholder do, against one regiment of disciplined troops ? Other securities, therefore, against the prevalence of military power must be provided. Happily for us, we are not so situated as that any purpose of national defence requires, ordinarily and constantly, such a military force as might seriously endanger our liberties.
" In respect, however, to the recent law of succession in France, to which I have alluded, I would, presumptuously, perhaps, hazard a conjecture, that if the government do not change the law, the law, in half a century, will change the government ; and that this change will be not in favor of the power of the crown, as some European writers have supposed, but against it
. Those writers only reason upon what they think correct general principles, in relation to this subject. They acknowledge a want of experience. Here we have had that experience; and we know that a multitude of small proprietors, acting with intelligence, and that enthusiasm which a common cause inspires, constitute not only a formidable, but an invincible power.” pp. 47–8.
In less than six years from the time when this statesmanlike prediction was made, the King of France, at the opening of the Legislative Chambers, thus strangely and portentously echoed it,
“ Legislation ought to provide, by successive improvements, for all the wants of society. The progressive partitioning of landed estates essentially contrary to the spirit of a monarchical government would enfeeble the guarantees which the charter has given to my throne and to my subjects. Measures will be proposed to you, gen. tlemen, to establish the consistency which ought to exist between the political law and the civil law; and to preserve the patrimony of families, without restricting the liberty of disposing of one's property. The preservation of families is connected with, and affords a guarantee to political stability, which is the first want of states, and which is especially that of France after so many vicissitudes."
But the discovery came too late. The foundations, on which to build or sustain the cumbrous system of the old monarchy, were already taken away; and the events of the last summer, while they would almost persuade us, that the “ Attendant Spirit” so boldly given by the orator in this very discourse to one of the great founders of our government, had opened to him, also, on the Rock of Plymouth, "a vision of the future ;"*_these events, we say, can leave little doubt in the mind of any man, that the speaker himself may live long enough,—as God grant he may !to witness the entire fulfilment of his own extraordinary prophecy, and
* See the beautiful passage respecting the fortune and the life of John Adams, at p. 44.
to see the French people erecting for themselves a sure and stable government, suited to the foundation, on which alone it can now rest."
In 1825, Mr. Webster was called to interpret the feelings of New-England, on another great festival and anniversary. Fifty years from the day, when the grave drama of the American Revolution was opened with such picturesque solemnity, as a magnificent show on Bunker's Hill, witnessed by the whole neighboring city and country, clustering by thousands on their steeples, the roofs of their houses, and the hill-tops, and waiting with unspeakable anxiety the results of the scene that was passing before their eyes,-fifty years from that day, it was determined to lay, with no less solemnity, the corner-stone of a monument worthy to commemorate its importance. An immense multitude was assembled. They stood on that consecrated spot, with only the heavens over their heads, and beneath their feet the bones of their fathers; amidst the visible remains of the very redoubt thrown up by Prescott, and defended by him
to the very last desperate extremity;* and with the names of Warren, Putnam, Stark, and Brooks, and the other leaders or victims of that great day, frequent and familiar on their lips. In the midst of such a scene and with such recollections, starting like the spirits of the dead from the very sods of that hill-side, it may well be imagined, that words like the following, addressed to a vast audience --composed in no small degree of the survivors of the battle, their children, and their grandchildren,-produced an effect, which only the hand of death can efface.
“We know, indeed, that the record of illustrious actions is most safely deposited in the universal remembrance of mankind. We know, that if we could cause this structure to ascend, not only till it reached the skies, but till it pierced them, its broad surfaces could 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 entablatures 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 letters and knowledge among men, can prolong the memorial. But our object is, by this edifice, to show our own deep' sense of the value and importance of the achievements 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 neither 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
* In an able article on the battle of Bunker's Hill, which is found in the North American Review, 1818, VII. 225-258, and is understood to have been written by Mr. Webster, he says,—" In truth, if there was any commander-in-chief in the action, it was Prescott. From the first breaking of the ground to the retreat, he acted the most important part; and if it were now proper to give the battle a name from any distinguished agent in it, it should be called, Prescott's battle.” We have no doubt this is but an exact measure of justice to one of those who hazarded all in our revolution, when the hazard was the greatest. The whole review is strong, and no one hereafter can write the history of the period it refers to, without consulting it. The opening description of the battle is beautiful and picturesque.
of peace may rest upon 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 importance 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 nations, must be expected to come on us also, desponding patriotism may turn its eyes hitherward, and be assured that the foundations of our national power still stand strong. We wish, that this column, rising towards heaven among the pointed spires of so many temples dedicated to God, may contribute also to produce, in all minds, a pious feeling of dependence and gratitude. We wish, finally, that the last object on the sight of him who leaves his native shore, and the first to gladden his who revisits it, may be something which shall remind him of the liberty and the glory of his country. Let it rise, till it meet the sun in his coming; let the earliest light of the morning gild it, and parting day linger and play on its summit.” pp. 58–9.
The last formal address delivered by Mr. Webster on any great public occasion, was unexpectedly called from him in the summer of 1826, in commemoration of the services of Adams and Jefferson ;-an occasion so remarkable, that what was said and felt on it, will not pass out of the memories of the present generation. We shall, therefore, only make one short extract from Mr. Webster's address at Faneuil Hall—the description of the peculiar eloquence of Mr. Adams, in giving which, the speaker becomes, himself, a living example of what he describes.
“ The eloquence of Mr. Adams resembled his general character, and formed, indeed, a part of it. It was bold, manly, and energetic; and such the crisis required. 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. - Affected passion, 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, god-like action.” Page 84.
During a part, however, of the period, over which we have thus very slightly passed, Mr. Webster was again in public life. He was elected to represent the city of Boston, in the seventeenth Congress, and took his seat there in December, 1823. Early in the session,
he presented a resolution in favor of appointing a commissioner or agent to Greece; and the resolution being taken up on the 19th of January following, Mr. Webster delivered the speech, which usually passes under the name of “the Greek Speech.” His object, however, in presenting the resolution, did not seem, at first, to be well understood. It was believed, that, seeing the existence of a warm public sympathy for the suffering Greeks, and solicited by the attractions of the subject itself, and of the classical associations awakened by it, his object was to parade a few sentences and figures, and so make an oration or harangue, which might usher him, with some éclat, a second time, upon the theatre of public affairs. The galleries, therefore, were thronged with a brilliant and fashionable audience. But the crowd was destined to be disappointed ;-Mr. Webster, after a graceful and conciliating introduction, in which he evidently disclaimed any such purpose, addressed himself at once to the subject, and made, what he always makes, a powerful, but a downright business speech. His object, instead of being the narrow one suggested for him, was apparent, as he advanced, to be the broadest possible. It was nothing less, than to take occasion of the Greek revolution, and the conduct pursued in regard to it by the great continental powers, in order to exhibit the principles laid down and avowed by those powers, as the basis on which they intended to maintain the peace of Europe. In doing this, he went through a very able examination of the proceedings of all the famous Congresses, beginning with that of Paris, in 1814, and coming down to that of Laybach, in 1821 ;—the principles of all which were, that the people hold their fundamental rights and privileges, as matter of concession and indulgence from the sovereign power; and that all sovereign powers have a right to interfere and control other nations, in their desires and attempts to change their own governments :
** The ultimate effect of this alliance of sovereigns, for objects personal to them. selves, or respecting only the permanency of their own power, must be the destruction of all just feeling, and all natural sympathy, between those who exercise the power of government, and those who are subject to it. The old channels of mutual regard and confidence are to be dried up, or cut off. Obedience can now be expected no longer than it is enforced. Instead of relying on affections the governed, sovereigns are to rely on the affections and friendship of other sovereigns. They are, in short, no longer to be nations. Princes and people no longer are to unite for interests common to them both. There is to be an end of all patriotism, as a distinct na. tional feeling. Society is to be divided horizontally; all sovereigns above, and all subjects below; the former coalescing for their own security, and for the more cer. tain subjection of the undistinguished multitude beneath.” Page 249.
But, as he says afterwards,“ This reasoning mistakes the age. The time has been, indeed, when fleets, and armies, and subsidies, were the principal reliances even in the best cause. But, happily for mankind, there has arrived a great change in this respect. Moral causes come into considération, in proportion as the progress of knowledge is advanced; and the public opinion of the civilized world is rapidly gaining an ascendency over mere brutal force. It is already able to oppose the most formidable obstruction to the pro. gress of injustice and oppression; and, as it grows more intelligent and more intense, it will be more and more formidable. It may be silenced by military power, but it cannot be conquered. It is elastic, irrepressible, and invulnerable to the weapons of
· Vital in every part,
ordinary warfare. It is that impassible, unextinguishable enemy of mere violence and arbitrary rule, which, like Milton's angels,
Cannot, but by annihilating, die.! “ Until this be propitiated or satisfied, it is vain for power to talk either of triumphs or of repose. No matter what fields are desolated, what fortresses surrendered, what armies subdued, or what provinces overrun. In the history of the year that has passed by us, and in the instance of unhappy Spain, we have seen the vanity of all triumphs, in a cause which violates the general sense of justice of the civilized world. It is nothing, that the troops of France have passed from the Pyrenees to Cadiz; it is nothing that an unhappy and prostrate nation has fallen before them; it is nothing that arrests, and confiscation, and execution, sweep away the little remnant of national resistance. There is an enemy that still exists to check the glory of these triumphs. It follows the conqueror back to the very scene of his ovations; it calls upon him to take notice that Europe, though silent, is yet indignant; it shows him that the sceptre of his victory is a barren sceptre; that it shall confer neither joy nor honor, but shall moulder to dry ashes in his grasp. In the midst of his exultation, it pierces his ear with the cry of injured justice, it denounces against him the indignation of an enlightened and civilized age; it turns to bitterness the cup of his rejoicing, and wounds him with the sting which belongs to the consciousness of having outraged the opinion of mankind.
“ In my own opinion, Sir, the Spanish nation is now nearer, not only in point of time, but in point of circumstance, to the acquisition of a regulated government, than at the moment of the French invasion. Nations must, no doubt, undergo these trials in their progress to the establishment of free institutions. The very trials benefit them, and render them more capable both of obtaining and of enjoying the object which they seek.” Page 253.
How completely does the mighty drama now passing before our eyes on the great theatre of Europe, justify these bold and sagacious predictions ! A great revolution has just taken place in France, and a distinguished prince, out of the regular line of succession, has been invited to the throne, on condition of governing according to the constitution prescribed by the representatives of the popular will. Belgium is doing the same thing. Devoted Poland has attempted it. Italy is in confusion,—and Germany disturbed and uneasy ;-so that, it seems already no longer to be in the power of any conspiracy of kings or congresses, to maintain permanently in Western Europe, a government not essentially founded on free institutions and principles. We will only add, that Mr. Webster has, on hardly any other occasion, entered into the discussion of European politics; and the consequence has been, that, if this speech has found less favor at home than some of his other efforts, it is one, that has brought him great honor abroad; since, besides being printed wherever the English tongue is spoken, it has been circulated through South America, and published in nearly every one of the civilized languages of Europe, including the Spanish and the Greek. In April
, 1824, he took a part in the great discussion of the tariff question ; and his speech on that occasion, as well as the one he delivered on the same subject in May, 1828, are both given in the volume before us. But the whole matter is so fresh in the recollections of the community, and Mr. Webster's constant defence of a tariff adapted to the general interests of the country, encouraging alike the cause of American manufactures and the interests of commerce, are so well known, from the first tariff of 1816, to the present moment, that it cannot be needful to speak