Page images
PDF
EPUB

he agitated; alternately gentle as the dews, and awful as the thunder. Yet, great as he was in the eyes of the world, he was greater in the eyes of those with whom he was most conversant. The greatness of most men, like objects seen through a mist, diminishes with the distance: but Hamilton, like a tower seen afar off under a clear sky, rose in grandeur and sublimity with every step of approach. Familiarity with him was the parent of veneration. Over these matchless talents, probity threw her brightest lustre. Frankness, suavity,

.

, tenderness, benevolence, breathed through their exercise. And to his family !but he is gone.—That noble heart beats no more : that eye of fire is dimmed; and sealed are those oracular lips. Americans, the serenest beam of your glory is extinguished in the tomb !

The death of Hamilton is no common affliction. The loss of distinguished men is, at all times, a calamity; but the loss · of such a man, at such a time, and in the very meridian of his usefulness, is singularly portentous. When Washington was taken, Hamilton was left—but Hamilton is taken, and we have no Washington. We have not such another man to die ! Washington and Hamilton in five years —Bereaved America !

[blocks in formation]

The solemn oath of America has ascended to Heaven. She has sworn to preserve her independence, her religion and her laws, or nobly perish in their defense, and be buried in the wrecks of her empire. To the fate of our government is united the fate of our country. The convulsions that destroy the one, must desolate the other. Their destinies are interwoven, and they must triumph or fall together. Where then is the man, so hardened in political iniquity, as to advocate the victories of French arms, which would render his countrymen slaves, or to promote the diffusion of French principles, which would render them savages ? Can it be doubted, that the pike of a French soldier is less cruel and ferocious than the fraternity of a French philosopher ? Where is the youth in this assembly, who could, without agonized emotions, behold the Gallic invader hurling the brand of devastation into the dwelling of his father; or with sacrilegious cupidity plundering the communion table of his God? Who could witness, without indignant desperation, the mother who bore him, inhumanly murdered, in the defense of her infants ? Who could hear, without frantic

a

horror, the shrieks of a sister, flying from pollution, and leaping from the blazing roof, to impale herself on the point of a halberd ? “If any, speak, for him have I offended!" No, my fellowcitizens, these scenes are never to be witnessed by American eyes. The souls of your ancestors still live in the bosoms of their descendants; and rather than submit this fair land of their inheritance to ravage and dishonor, from hoary age to helpless infancy, they will form one united bulwark, and oppose their breasts to the assailing foe. Not one shall survive, to be enslaved; for ere the tri-colored flag shall wave over our prostrate republic, the bones of four millions of Americans shall whiten the shores of their country! This depopulated region shall be as desolate as its original wilderness; the re-vegetating forest shall cover the ruins of our cities; and the savage shall return from the mountains, and again rear his hut in the abode of his forefathers. Then shall commence the millenium of political illumination; and Frenchmen and wolves,

one and indivisible,” nightly chant their barbarous orgies, to celebrate the philosophic empire of democracy!

[blocks in formation]

That education is one of the deepest principles of independence, need not be labored in this assembly. In arbitrary governments, where the people neither make the law nor choose those who legislate, the more ignorance the more peace. But in a government where the people fill all the branches of the sovereignty, intelligence is the life of liberty. An American would resent his being denied the use of his musket; but he would deprive himself of a stronger safeguard, if he should want that learning which is necessary to a knowledge of the constitution. It is easy to see that our Agrarian law and the law of education were calculated to make republicans, to make men. Servitude could never long consist with the habits of such citizens. Enlightened minds and virtuous manners lead to the gates of glory. The sentiment of independence must have been connatural in the bosoms Americans; and sooner or later, must have blazed out into public action. Independence fits the soul of her residence for every noble enterprise of humanity and greatness. Her radiant smile lights up celestial ardor in poets and orators, who sound her praises through all ages ; in legislators and philosophers, who fabricate wise and happy governments as dedications to her fame; in patriots and heroes, who shed their lives in sacrifice to her divinity. At this idea, do not our minds swell with the memory of those whose godlike virtues have founded her most magnificent temple in America ? It is easy for us to maintain her doctrines, at this late day, when there is but one party on the subject, an immense people. But what tribute shall we bestow, what sacred pæan shall we raise over the tombs of those who dared, in the face of unrivalled power, and within the reach of majesty, to blow the blast of freedom throughout a subject continent ? Nor did those brave countrymen of ours only express the emotions of glory; the nature of their principles inspired them with the power of practice, and they offered their bosoms to the shafts of battle. Bunker's awful mount is the capacious urn of their ashes ; but the flaming bounds of the universe could not limit the flight of their minds. They fled to the union of kindred souls; and those who fell at the strait of Thermopylæ, and those who bled on the heights of Charlestown, now reap congenial joys in the fields of the blessed.

a

a

16. THE LOSS OF NATIONAL CHARACTER.—Maxcy. The loss of a firm national character, or the degradation of a nation's honor, is the inevitable prelude to her destruction. Behold the once proud fabric of a Roman empire-an empire carrying its arts and arms into every part of the eastern continent; the monarchs of mighty kingdoms dragged at the wheels of her triumphal chariots; her eagle waving over the ruins of desolated countries. Where is her splendor, her wealth, her power, her glory? Extinguished for ever.

Her moldering temples, the mournful vestiges of her former grandeur, afford a shelter to her muttering monks. Where are her statesmen, her sages, her philosophers, her orators, her generals ? Go to their • solitary tombs and inquire. She lost her national character, and her destruction followed. The ramparts of her national pride were broken down, and Vandalism desolated her classic fields.

Citizens will lose their respect and confidence in our government, if it does not extend over them

he shield of an onorable rational character. Corruption will creep in and sharpen party animosity. Ambitious leaders will seize upon the favorable moment. The mad enthusiasm for revolution will call into action the irritated spirit of our nation, and civil war must fol. low. The swords of our countrymen may yet glitter on our mountains, their blood may yet crimson our plains.

Such-the warning voice of all antiquity, the example of all republics proclaim-may be our fate. But let us no longer indulge these gloomy anticipations. The commencement of our liberty presages the dawn of a brighter period to the world. That bold, enterprising spirit which conducted our heroes to peace and safety, and gave us a lofty rank amid the empires of the world, still animates the bosoms of their descendants. Look back to that moment when they unbarred the dungeons of the slave, and dashed his fetters to the earth, when the sword of a Washington leaped from its scabbard to revenge the slaughter of our countrymen. Place their example before you.

Let the sparks of their veteran wisdom flash across your minds, and the sacred altars of your liberty, crowned with immortal honors, rise before you. Relying on the virtue, the courage,

the patriotism, and the strength of our country, we may expect our national character will become more energetic, our citizens. more enlightened, and may hail the age as not far distant, when will heard, as the proudest exclamation of man: I am an American.

17. THE TOMAHAWK SUBMISSIVE TO THE SPIRIT OF ELOQUENCE.

-Neal.

Twenty tomahawks were raised; twenty arrows drawn to their head. Yet stood Harold, stern and collected—at bayparleying only with his sword. He waved his arm. Smitten with a sense of their cowardice, perhaps, or by his great dignity, more awful for his very youth, their weapons dropped, and their countenances were uplifted upon him, less in hatred, than in wonder.

The old men gathered about him-he leaned upon his sabre. Their eyes

shone with admiration—such heroic deportment, in one so young—a boy! so intrepid ! so prompt! so graceful! so eloquent, too !-for, knowing the effect of eloquence, and feeling the loftiness of his own nature, the innocence of his own heart, the character of the Indians for hospitality, and their veneration for his blood, Harold dealt out the thunder of his strength to these rude barbarians of the wilderness, till they, young and old, gathering nearer and nearer in their devotion, threw down their weapons at his feet, and formed a rampart of locked arms and hearts about him, through which his eloquence thrilled and lightened like electricity. The old greeted him with a lofty step, as the patriarch welcomes his boy from the

Who may

triumph of far-off battle; and the young clave to him and clung to him, and shouted in their self-abandonment, like brothers round a conquering brother.

“Warriors !” he said, “ Brethren !”—(their tomahawks were brandished simultaneously, at the sound of his terrible voice, as if preparing for the onset.) His tones grew deeper, and less threatening. “Brothers ! let us talk together of Logan! Ye, who have known him, ye aged men! bear ye testimony to the deeds of his strength. Who was like him? Who could resist him? Who

may

abide the hurricane in its volley? withstand the winds that uproot the great trees of the mountain ? Let him be the foe of Logan. Thrice in one day hath he given battle. Thrice in one day hath he come back victorious. Who may bear up against the strong man? the man of war? Let them that are young,

hear me.

Let them follow the course of Logan. He goes in clouds and whirlwind in the fire and in the smoke. Let them follow him.

“ Warriors ! Logan was the father of Harold !"

They fell back in astonishment, but they believed him ; for Harold's word was unquestioned, undoubted evidence, to them that knew him.

18.

EFFECTS OF PROTESTANTISM.

.-Haven.

It has been remarked, my friends, by those who have reasoned most profoundly upon the constitution of society, that the human mind has never, in modern times, attained its full and perfect maturity, but among the protestant nations of christendom. In reviewing the splendid career of human intelligence, during the three last centuries, it is impossible not to ascribe much of its progress to the reformation of Luther. That great man gave an impulse to society which it has ever since preserved. He taught men to examine, to reason, to inquire. He unfolded to their wondering gaze, a form of moral beauty, which had been too long shrouded from their eyes by the timid dogmatism of the papal church.

It is to protestant christianity, gentlemen, that you are indebted for the noblest exercise of your rational powers. It is to protestant christianity, that you owe the vigor of your

intellectual exertions and the purity of your moral sentiments. I could easily show you how much the manliness of English literature, and the fearless intrepidity of German speculation, and how much even of the accurate sciences of France, may be

« PreviousContinue »