Gambar halaman
PDF
ePub
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

But the great triumphs of constitutional freedom, to which our independence has furnished the example, have been witnessed in the southern portion of our hemisphere. Sunk to the last point of colonial degradation, they have risen at once into the organization of free republics. Their struggle has been arduous; and eighteen years of chequered fortune have not yet brought it to a close. But we must not infer, from their prolonged agitation, that their independence is uncertain; that they have prematurely put on the toga virilis of Freedom. They

have not begun too soon; they have more to do. Our war of independence was shorter ;-happily we were contending with a government, that could not, like that of Spain, pursue an interminable and hopeless contest, in defiance of the people's will. Our transition to a mature and well adjusted constitution was more prompt than that of our sister republics; for the foundations had long been settled, the preparation long made. And when we consider that it is our example, which has aroused the spirit of Independence from California to Cape Horn; that the experiment of liberty, if it had failed with us, most surely would not have been attempted by them; that even now our counsels and acts will operate as powerful precedents in this great family of republics, we learn the importance of the post which Providence has assigned us in the world. A wise and harmonious administration of the public affairs,—a aithful, liberal and patriotic exercise of the private duties of the citizen-while they secure our happiness at home, will diffuse a healthful influence through the channels of national communication, and serve the cause of liberty beyond the Equator and the Andes. When we show an united, conciliatory, and imposing front to their rising states, we show them, better than sounding eulogies can do, the true aspect of an independent republic. We give them a living example, that the fireside policy of a people is like that of the in

dividual man. As the one, commencing in the prudence, order and industry of the private circle, extends itself to all the duties of social life, of the family, the neighborhood, the country; so the true domestic policy of the republic, beginning in the wise organization of its own institutions, pervades its territories with a vigilant, prudent, temperate administration; and extends the hand of cordial interest to all the friendly nations, especially to those which are of the household of liberty.

It is in this way, that we are to fulfill our destiny in the world. The greatest engine of moral power, which human nature knows, is an organized, prosperous state. All that man, in his individual capacity, can do-all that he can effect by his fraternities—by his ingenious discoveries and wonders of art--or by his influence over others—is as nothing, compared with the collective, perpetuated influence on human affairs and human happiness of a well constituted, powerful commonwealth. It blesses generations with its sweet influence;-even the barren earth seems to pour out its fruits under a system where property is secure, while her fairest gardens are blighted by despotism ;men, thinking, reasoning men, abound beneath its benignant sway,-nature enters into a beautiful accord, a better, purer asiento with man, and guides an industri. ous citizen to every rood of her smiling wastes ;-and we see, at length, that what has been called a state of nature, has been most falsely, calumniously so denominated; that the nature of man is neither that of a savage, a hermit, nor a slave; but that of a member of a well ordered family, that of a good neighbor, a free citizen, a well informed, good man, acting with others like him. This is the lesson which is taught in the charter of our independence; this is the lesson, which our example is to teach the world.

The epic poet of Rome—the faithful subject of an absolute prince-in unfolding the duties and destinies

of his countrymen, bids them look down with disdain on the polished and intellectual arts of Greece, and deem their arts to be

To rule the nations with imperial sway ;
To spare the tribes that yield ; fight down the proud ;
And force the mood of peace upon the world.

A nobler counsel breathes from the charter of our independence; a happier province belongs to our free republic. Peace we would extend, but by persuasion and example,—the moral force, by which alone it can prevail among the nations. Wars we may encounter, but it is in the sacred character of the injured and the wronged; to raise the trampled rights of humanity from the dust; to rescue the mild form of Liberty, from her abode among the prisons and the scaffolds of the elder world, and to seat her in the chair of state among her adoring children ;—to give her beauty for ashes; a healthful action for her cruel agony; to put at last a period to her warfare on earth; to tear her star-spangled banner from the perilous ridges of battle, and plant it on the rock of ages. There be it fixed forever,—the power of a free people slumbering in its folds, their peace reposing in its shade!

[blocks in formation]

A DISCOURSE,

IN COMMEMORATION OF THE LIVES AND SERVICES OF

JOHN ADAMS AND THOMAS JEFFERSON,

DELIVERED IN FANEUIL HALL, BOSTON, AUGUST 2, 1826 :

BY DANIEL WEBSTER.

This is an unaccustomed spectacle. For the first time, fellow-citizens, badges of mourning shroud the columns and overbang the arches of this Hall. These walls, which were consecrated, so long ago, to the cause of American liberty, which witnessed her infant struggles, and rung with the shouts of her earliest victories, proclaim, now, that distinguished friends and champions of the great cause have fallen. It is right that it should be thus. The tears which flow, and the honors that are paid, when the Founders of the Republic die, give hope that the Republic itself may be immortal. · It is fit, that by public assembly and solemn observance, by anthem and by eulogy, we commemorate the services of national benefactors, extol their virtues, and render thanks to God for eminent blessings, early given and long continued, to our favored country

Adams and Jefferson are no more; and we are assembled, fellow-citizens, the aged, the middle aged and the

young, by the spontaneous impulse of all, under the authority of the municipal government, with the presence of the Chief Magistrate of the Commonwealth, and others its official representatives, the university, and the learned societies, to bear our part, in those manifestations of respect and gratitude which universally pervade the land. Adams and Jefferson are no more. On our fiftieth anniversary, the great day of National Jubilee, in the very hour of public rejoicing, in the midst of echoing and re-echoing voices of thanksgiving, while their own names were on all tongues, they took their flight, together, to the world of spirits.

If it be true that no one can safely be pronounced happy while he lives; if that event which terminates life can alone crown its honors and its glory, what felicity is here! The great Epic of their lives, how happily concluded! Poetry itself has hardly closed illustrious lives, and finished the career of earthly renown, by such a consummation. If we had the power, we could not wish to reverse this dispensation of the Divine Providence. The great objects of life were accomplished, the drama was ready to be closed; it has closed; our patriots have fallen; but so fallen, at such age, with such coincidence, on such a day, that we cannot rationally lament that that end has come, which we knew could not be long deferred.

Neither of these great men, fellow-citizens, could have died, at any time, without leaving an immense void in our American society. They have been so intimately, and for so lorg a time, blended with the history of the country, and especially so united, in our thoughts and recollections, with the events of the Revolution, that the death of either would have touched the strings of public sympathy. We should have felt that one great link, connecting us with former times, was broken; that we had lost something more, as it were, of the presence of the Revolution itself, and of the act of independence, and were driven on, by another great remove, from the days of our country's early distinction, to meet posterity, and to mix with the future. Like the mariner, whom the ocean and the winds carry along, till he sees the stars which have directed his course, and lighted his pathless way, descend, one by one, beneath the rising horizon, we should have felt that the stream of time had borne us onward, till another great luminary, whose light had cheered us, and whose guidance we had followed, had sunk away from our sight.

But the concurrence of their death, on the anniver

« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »