« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »
by the immediate vision of the supreme excellence, yield a fulness of joy, consistently with many vicissitudes of external position.
Valedictory Counsels of Washington.
THERE is an opinion that parties, in free countries, are useful checks upon the administration of the government, and serve to keep alive the spirit of liberty. This, within certain limits, is probably true; and in governments of a monarchical cast, patriotism may look with indulgence, if not with favor, upon the spirit of party ; but in those of the popular character, in governments purely elective, it is a spirit not to be encouraged. From their natural tendency, it is certain there will always be enough of that spirit for every salutary purpose ; and there being constant danger of excess, the effort ought to be, by force of public opinion, to mitigate and assuage it. A fire not to be quenched, it demands a uniform vigilance to prevent its bursting into a flame, lest, instead of warming, it should consume.
Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the destinies of men and citizens.
The mere politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connections with private and public felicity. Let it simply be asked, Where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths which are the instruments of investigation in courts of justice? And let us with caution indulge the supposition, that morality can be maintained
without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect, that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principles.
It is substantially true, that virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular government. The rule, indeed, extends with more or less force to every species of free government. Who, that is a sincere friend to it, can look with indifference upon attempts to shake the foundation of the fabric ?
Promote, then, as an object of primary importance, institutions for the general diffusion of knowledge. proportion as the structure of a government gives force to public opinion, it is essential that public opinion should be enlightened.
Observe good faith and justice towards all nations; cultivate peace and harmony with all; religion and morality enjoin this conduct; and can it be that good policy does not equally enjoin it? It will be worthy of a free, enlightened, and, at no distant period, a great nation, to give to mankind the magnanimous and too novel example of a people always guided by an exalted justice and benevolence. Who can doubt that, in the course of time and things, the fruits of such a plan would richly repay any temporary advantages which might be lost by a steady adherence to it? Can it be that Providence has not connected the permanent, felicity of a nation with its virtue? The experiment at least 18“recommended by every sentiment which ennobles human nature. Alas! is it rendered impossible by its vices?
In the execution of such a plan, nothing is more essential than that permanent, inveterate antipathies against particular nations, and passionate attachments for others, should be excluded, and that, in place of them, just and amiable feelings towards all should be cultivated. The nation which indulges towards another an habitual hatred, or an habitual fondness, is in some degree a slave. It is a slave
to its animosity or to its affection, either of which is sufficient to lead it astray from its duty and its interest. Antipathy in one nation against another, disposes each more readily to offer insult and injury, to lay hold of slight causes of umbrage, and to be haughty and intractable when accidental or trifling occasions of dispute occur.
Hence frequent collisions, obstinate, envenomed and bloody contests. The nation, prompted by ill-will and resentment, sometimes impels to war the government, contrary to the best calculations of policy. The government sometimes participates in the national propensity, and adopts, through passion, what reason would reject: at other times, it makes the animosity of the nation subservient to projects of hostility instigated by pride, ambition and other sinister and pernicious motives. The peace often, and sometimes, perhaps, the liberty, of nations has been the victim.
So likewise a passionate attachment of one nation for another, produces a variety of evils. Sympathy for the favorite nation facilitating the illusion of an imaginary common interest, in cases where no real common interest exists, and infusing into one the enmities of the other, betrays the former into a participation in the quarrels and wars of the latter, without adequate inducement or justification. It leads also to concessions to the favorite nation of privileges denied to others, which is apt doubly to injure the nation making the concessions, by unnecessarily parting with what ought to have been retained, and by exciting jealousy, ill-will, and a disposition to retaliate, in the parties from whom equal privileges are withheld ; and it gives to ambitious, corrupted or deluded citizens (who devote themselves to the favorite nation) facility to betray or sacrifice the interests of their own country, without odium, sometimes even with popularity; gilding with the appearance of a virtuous sense of obligation, a commendable deference for public opinion, or laudable zeal for public good, the base or foolish compliances of ambition, corruption or infatuation.
Obligations resting upon the People of the United States
to preserve the Union.-DANIEL WEBSTER.
The people of the United States, by a vast and countless. majority, are attached to the constitution. If they shall be convinced that it is in danger, they will come to its rescue, and will save it. It cannot be destroyed, even now, if they will undertake its guardianship and protection.
But suppose there was less hope than there is, would that consideration weaken the force of our obligations ? Are we at a post which we are at liberty to abandon, when it becomes difficult to hold it ? May we fly at the approach of danger? Does our fidelity to the constitution require no more of us than to enjoy its blessings, to bask in the prosperity which it has shed around us and our fathers ? and are we at liberty to abandon it, in the hour of its peril, or to make for it but a faint and heartless struggle, for the want of encouragement, and the want of hope ? If no state comes to our succor,
every where the contest should be given up, here let it be pro tracted to the last moment. Here, where the first blood of the revolution was shed, let the last effort for that which is the greatest blessing obtained by it—a free and united government–be made.
In our endeavors to maintain our existing forms of government, we are acting not for ourselves alone, but for the great cause of constitutional liberty all over the globe. We are trustees, holding a sacred treasure, in which all the lovers of freedom have a stake. Not only in revolutionized France, where there are no longer subjects, where the monarch can no longer say, he is the state; not only in reformed England, where our principles, our institutions, our practice of free government, are now daily quoted and
commended; but in the depths of Germany also, and among the desolated fields and the still smoking ashes of Poland, prayers are uttered for the preservation of our union and happiness. We are surrounded by a cloud of witnesses. The gaze of the sons of liberty, every where, is upon us—anxiously, intently, upon us. It may see us fall in the struggle for our constitution and government, but Heaven forbid that it should see us recreant.
At least, let the Star of Massachusetts be the last which shall be seen to fall from heaven, and to plunge into the utter darkness of disunion. Let her shrink back, let her hold others back if she can, at any rate let her keep herself back, from this gulf, full, at once, of fire and of blackness; yes, as far as human foresight can scan, or human imagination fathom, full of the fire, and the blood, of civil war, and of the thick darkness of general political disgrace, ignominy and ruin. Though the worst happen that can happen, and though we be not able to prevent the catastrophe, yet let her maintain her own integrity, her own high honor, her own unwavering fidelity; so that, with respect and decency, though with a broken and a bleeding heart, she may pay the last tribute to a glorious, departed, free constitution.
Prejudice.- JANE TAYLOR.
That is the truly philosophic mind,