« PreviousContinue »
13. Look from the sky,
Like God's great eye,
Till, in the sight
Of thy pure light,
14. Shame from our hearts
15. To party claims
And private aims,
Whereto are given
The age of heaven,
16. So shall our voice
Of sovereign choice
And strike the key
Of time to be,
XXXVIII.-AN ORATION ON LA FAYETTE.
1. Overtopping all others in character, La Fayette was conspicuous also in debate. Especially was he aroused whenever human liberty was in question; nor did he hesitate to vindicate the great revolution in France, at once in its principles and in its practical results; boldly declaring that its evils were to be referred, not so much to the bad passions of men, as to those timid counsels which instituted compromise for principle.
2. His parliamentary career was interrupted by an episode which belongs to the poetry of history-his visit to the United States
the invitation of the American Congress. The Boston poet at that time gave expression to the univer sal feeling when he said,
We bow not the neck, we bend not the knee,
But our hearts, La Fayette, we surrender to theo. As there never was such a guest, so there never was such a host; and yet, throughout all his transcendent hospitality, binding him by new ties, he kept the loyalty of his hearthe did not forget the African slave. But his country had further need of his services. Charles X. undertook to subvert the charter under which he held his crown, and Paris was again aroused, and France was heaving again. Then did all eyes turn to the patriot farmer of Lagrange — to the hero already of two revolutions—to inspire confidence alike by his bravery and by his principles. Now seventy-three years of age, with a few friends, among whom was a personal friend of my own—whom some of you also know, Dr. Howe, of Boston-he passed through the streets, where the conflict was hotly raging, and across the barricades, to the City Hall, when he was again placed at the head of the national guard of France.
3. “Liberty shall triumph," said he in his first proclamation, “or we will perish together.” Charles X. fell before the words of that old man. The destinies of France were again in his hand. He might have made himself Dictator; he might have established a republic of which he might have
been chief; but, mindful of that moderation which was the rule of his life, unwilling to hazard again the civil conflict which had drenched France with fraternal blood, he proposed a popular throne surrounded by popular institutions. The Duke of Orleans, as Louis Philippe, became king of France. Unquestionably his own desire was for a republic, upon the American model; but he gave up this darling desire of his heart, satisfied that, at least, liberty was secured, If this was not so, it was because, for a moment, he had put his trust in princes.
4. He again withdrew to his farm, but his heart was wherever liberty was in question—now with the Pole, now with the Italian, now with the African slave. For the rights of the latter he had unfailing sympathy, and upon the principle, as he expressed it, “Every slave has the right of immediate emancipation, by the concession of his master or by force, and this principle no man can call in question." Tenderly he approached this great question of our own country, but the constancy with which he did it shows that it haunted and perplexed him like a sphynx, with a perpetual riddle. He could not understand how men who had fought for their own liberty could deny liberty to others. But he did not despair ; although at one time in his old age his impatient philanthropy broke forth in the declaration, that he never would have drawn the sword for America had he known that it was to found a government that sanctioned human slavery.
5. The time was now at hand when his great career was
close. Being taken ill, at first with a cold, the Chamber. of Deputies inquired of his son after his health; and upon the next day, May 20, 1834, he died, at the age of seventy seven. The ruling passion was strong to the last. As at the beginning, so at the end, he was all for freedom; and the
last lines traced by his hand, which he rose from his death. bed to write, attest his joy at that great act of emancipation by which England, at an expense of a hundred million dol lars, had given freedom to eight hundred thousand slaves.
Nobly," he writes, -and these were the last words of your benefactor,—"nobly has the public treasure been employed." And these last words, speaking from the tomb, still sound in our ears. Such was La Fayette. At the tidings of his death there was mourning in two hemispheres, and the saying of Pericles was again fulfilled, for the whole earth was the sepulcher of the illustrious man.
“ Not to those chambers where the mighty rest,
Since their foundation came a nobler guest;
6. Judge him by what he did throughout a long life, and you must confess his greatness. Judge him by the principles of his life, and you must bend with reverence before him. In all history he stands alone. There is no one who has done so much for human freedom. In youth showing the firmness of age, and in age showing the ardor of youth; trampling upon the prejudices of birth, upon the seductions of power, upon the blandishments of wealth, setting aside the favor even of that people whom he loved so well; whether placed at the height of worldly ambition, or plunged in the vaults of a dungeon, always true to the same principle.
7. Great he was, indeed, not as an author, although he has written what we are all glad to read; not as an orator, although he has spoken often and well; not as a soldier, although always brave, and often working miracles of genius; not as a statesman, although versed in government and intuitively perceiving the relations of men and nations ;— not on these accounts is he great; but he is great as one of the world's benefactors, who possessed the largest measure of that greatest gift of God to man—the genius of beneficence. And great he is as an example, which, so long as history endures, shall teach all — the author, the orator, the soldier, the statesman,-all alike to labor, and, if need be, to suffer, for human right. The fame of such a character, brightening with the advance of civilization, can find no limit except in earthly gratitude.
XXXIX.—THE BATTLE OF BUNKER HILL.
FREDERICK S, COZZENS. 1. It was a starry night in June, the air was soft and still, When the minute-men from Cambridge came, and gathered
on the hill; Beneath us lay the sleeping town, around us frowned the
fleet, But the pulse of freemen, not of slaves, within our bosoms
beat, And every heart rose high with hope, as fearlessly we said, “We will be numbered with the free, or numbered with the
dead !” 2. “Bring out the line to mark the trench, and stretch it
on the sward !” The trench is marked, the tools are brought, we utter not a
66 All's well !”