Gambar halaman
PDF
ePub

wilderness, the council of James the First, rendered that separation irreconcileable. Viewing their religious liberties here, as held only upon sufferance, yet bound to them by all the ties of conviction, and by all their sufferings for them, could they forbear to look

upon every dissenter among themselves with a jealous eye? Within two years after their landing, they beheld a rival settlement* attempted in their immediate neighborhood; and not long after, the laws of self-preservation compelled them to break up a nest of revellers, who boasted of protection from the mother country, and who had recurred to the easy, but pernicious resource of feeding their wanton idleness, by furnishing the savages with the means, the skill and the instruments of European destruction. Toleration, in that instance, would have been self-murder and many other examples might be alleged, in which their necessary measures of self-defence have been exaggerated into cruelty, and their most indispensable precautions distorted into persecution. Yet shall we not pretend that they were exempt from the common laws of mortality, or entirely free from all the errors of their age. Their zeal might sometimes be too ardent, but it was always sincere. At this day, religious indulgence is one of our clearest duties, because it is one of our undisputed rights. While we rejoice that the principles of genuine christianity have so far triumphed over the prejudices of a former generation, let us fervently hope for the day when it will prove equally victorious over the malignant passions of our own.

In thus calling your attention to some of the peculiar features in the principles, the character, and the history of your forefathers, it is as wide from my design, as I know it would be from your approbation, to adorn their memory with a chaplet plucked from the domain of others. The occasion and the day are more pecu

* Weston's plantation at Wessagussett.
† Morton, and his party at Mount Wollaston.
VOL. v.

25

ceive on its point the insolence of that foe whose intrigue he had foiled by his wisdom.

It must ever be difficult to compare the merits of WAShington's characters, because he always appeared greatest in that which he last sustained. Yet if there is a preference, it must be assigned to the lieutenantgeneral of the armies of America. Not because the duties of that station were more arduous than those which he had often performed, but because it more fully displayed his magnanimity. While others become great by elevation, Washington becomes greater by condescension. Matchless patriot! to stoop, on public motives, to an inferior appointment, after possessing and dignifying the highest offices! Thrice favored country, which boasts of such a citizen! We gaze with astonishment: we exult that we are Americans. We augur every thing great, and good, and happy. But whence this sudden horror ? What means that cry of agony ? Oh! 'tis the shriek of America! The fairy vision is fled: Washington isno more!

- How are the mighty fallen, and the weapons of war perished!"

Daughters of America, who erst prepared the festal bower and the laurel wreath, plant now the cypress grove, and water it with tears.

"How are the mighty fallen, and the weapons of war perished !"

The death of Washington, Americans, has revealed the extent of our loss. It has given us the final proof that we never mistook him. Take his affecting testament, and read the secrets of his soul. Read all the power of domestic virtue. Read his strong love of letters and of liberty. Read his fidelity to republican principle, and his jealousy of national character. Read his devotedness to you in his military bequests to near relations. “ These swords,” they are the words of WASHINGTON, “ these swords are accompanied with an

[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

injunction not to unsheath them for the purpose of shedding of blood, except it be for self-defence, or in defence of their country and its rights; and in the latter case, to keep them unsheathed, and prefer falling with them in their hands to the relinquishment thereof."

In his acts, Americans, you have seen the man. In the complicated excellence of character, he stands alone. Let no future Plutarch attempt the iniquity of parallel. Let no soldier of fortune, let no usurping conqueror, let not Alexander or Cæsar, let not Cromwell or Buonaparte, let none among the dead or the living, appear in the same picture with WASHINGTON: or let them appear as the shade to his light.

On this subject, my countrymen, it is for others to speculate, but it is for us to feel. Yet, in proportion to the severity of the stroke, ought to be our thankfulness, that it was not inflicted sooner. Through a long series of years has God preserved our WashingTON a public blessing: and now that he has removed him forever, shall we presume to say, What doest thou? Never did the tomb preach more powerfully the dependence of all things on the will of the Most High. The greatest of mortals crumble into dust, the moment He commands, Return, ye children of men WASHINGTON was but the instrument of a benignant God. He sickens, he dies, that we may learn not to trust in men, nor to make flesh our arm. But though WASHINGTON is dead, Jehovah lives. God of our fathers! be our God, and the God of our children! Thou art our refuge and our hope; the pillar of our strength; the wall of our defence, and our unfading glory!

Americans ! this God, who raised up WASHINGTON, and gave you liberty, exacts from you the duty of cherishing it with a zeal according to knowledge. Never sully, by apathy or by outrage, your fair inheritance. Risk not, for one moment, on visionary theories, the solid blessings of your lot.

lot. To you, particul

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small]

larly, O youth of America! applies the solemn charge. In all the perils of your country, remember WASHINGTON. The freedom of reason and of right, has been handed down to you on the point of the hero's sword. Guard, with veneration, the sacred deposit. The curse of ages will rest upon you, O youth of America ! if ever you surrender to foreign ambition, or domestic lawlessness, the precious liberties for which WASHINGTon fought, and your fathers bled.

I cannot part with you, fellow-citizens, without urging the long remembrance of our present assembly. This day we wipe away the reproach of republics, that they know not how to be grateful. In your treatment of living patriots, recall your love and your regret of WASHINGTON. Let not future inconsistency charge this day with hypocrisy. Happy America, if she gives an instance of universal principle in her sorrows for the man “ first in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen!”

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

AN ORATION,

DELIVERED AT PLYMOUTH DECEMBER 22, 1802,

AT THE ANNIVERSARY COMMEMORATION OF THE FIRST

LANDING OF OUR ANCESTORS, AT THAT PLACE :

BY JOHN QUINCY ADAMS.

Among the sentiments of most powerful operation upon the human heart, and most highly honorable to the human character, are those of veneration for our forefathers, and of love for our posterity. They form the connecting links between the selfish and the social passions. By the fundamental principle of christianity, the happiness of the individual is interwoven, by innumerable and imperceptible ties, with that of his contemporaries: by the power of filial reverence and parental affection, individual existence is extended beyond the limits of individual life, and the happiness of every age is chained in mutual dependence upon that of every other. Respect for his ancestors excites, in the breast of man, interest in their history, attachment to their characters, concern for their errors, involuntary pride in their virtues. Love for his posterity spurs him to exertion for their support, stimulates him to virtue for their example, and fills him with the tenderest solicitude for their welfare. Man, therefore, was not made for himself alone. No; he was made for his country, by the obligations of the social compact: he was made for his species, by the christian duties of universal charity: he was made for all ages past, by the sentiment of reverence for his forefathers; and he was made for all future times, by the impulse of affection for his progeny. . Under the influence of these principles, “ Existence sees him spurn her bound

23

VOL, V.

« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »