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servitude, she is England still,-the freest of the great nations of Europe, the mistress of the ocean, disputed in her empire over it only by ourselves, the country of the Alfreds, the Henrys, and the Edwards, whose names shine brightly in the darkness of the middle ages, like solitary stars in the distant sky, the conqueror of Crecy, of Agincourt, of Trafalgar, of Waterloo, endeared to us by the ties of a common origin, a common language, and a common spirit, and only alienated in sentiment from Americans for a time by her temporary lust of dominion over America. Our anniversary orators, therefore, allude to and dwell upon the emigration of the pilgrims, the subsequent history of the colonies, and the revolutionary struggle, with no disposition to tear open wounds which are healed, but only so far as it is necessary to keep alive those hallowed recollections, which are part and parcel of the common patrimony of every American. We ourselves require to be reminded, and our children to be informed, why it was, and with what intent, that cur ancestors abandoned the comforts of their father-land, planted their household gods in the wilderness, and engaged in the stormy contests of war and revolution.
Mr Everett touches upon this topic in the introductory part of his oration; and his views of it will be not inopportune at this time.
A pacific and friendly feeling towards England is the duty of this nation; but it is not our only duty, it is not our first duty. America owes an earlier and a higher duty to the great and good men, who caused her to be a nation; who at an expense of treasure, a contempt of peril, a prodigality of blood—the purest and noblest that ever flowed-of which we can now hardly conceive, vindicated to this continent a place among the nations of the earth. I cannot consent, out of tenderness to the memory of the Gages, the Hutchinsons, the Grenvilles and Norths, the Dartmouths and Hillsboroughs, to cast a veil over the labours and sacrifices of the Quincys, the Adamses, the Hancocks, and the Warrens. I am not willing to give up to the ploughshare the soil wet with our fathers' blood; no! not even to plant the olive of peace in the furrow.
There is not a people on earth so abject, as to think that national courtesy requires them to hush up the tale of the glorious exploits of their fathers and countrymen. France is at peace with Austria and Prussia; but she does not demolish her beautiful bridges, baptized with the names of the battle fields, where Napoleon annihilated their armies; nor tear down the columns, moulten out of the accumulated heaps of their captive artillery. England is at peace with France and Spain, but does she suppress the names of Trafalgar and the Nile; does she overthrow the towers of Blenheim castle, eternal monuments of the disasters of France; does she tear down from the rafters of her chapels, where they have for ages waved in triumph, consecrated to the God of
battles, the banners of Cressy and Agincourt?-No; she is wiser; wiser, did I say? she is truer, juster to the memory of her fathers and the spirit of her children.
Nothing seems more remarkable to the superficial observer of the early days of our national history, than the seeming unpreparedness of the country for the war upon which it was about to enter, and out of which it issued so gloriously. As the sun of our liberty arose to pour the light of his beams over the land, he shone luridly out from the clouds of doubt and confusion and discord, which obscured the nation's destiny.
Sad was the year, by proud oppression driven,
Not in the sunshine and the smile of heaven,
Sad, indeed, was the year, and mournfully indeed, to the fallible eye of man, unskilled to pierce through the hidden. mysteries of futurity, did our Independence begin. The power, which was aiming to enslave us, was mighty, beyond all which it seemed within our ability to bring against it; and we had provoked the extremity of its wrath. We had dared England to the combat,-England, out of whose womb we sprang, whose inhabitants were not less brave and resolute than ourselves,-who had at her command all the treasures of the east and the west, who possessed disciplined armies, and whose navies crowded every sea. What had we to oppose to all this tremendous array of strength? Whence were we to gather the riches and summon the armies and collect the fleets, which could withstand the potent armaments of Britain? We had a Washington to lead on our embattled hosts to the fight; but his followers were only the raw and undisciplined yeomanry of the country; and could they hope to vanquish the vanquishers of France and India? We had a Franklin, a Jefferson, and an Adams to guide our public councils and wield our national resources; but those resources consisted in nothing but the native energies of a people resolved to be free; and could they be deemed adequate to prevail over the most opulent and most powerful kingdom of Europe?
It is necessary that we should enter into these considerations, if we would realize the strength of resolution, the moral sublimity of character, which actuated the heroes and sages of the revolution. We must recollect that the colonists had petitioned, they had remonstrated, they had had recourse to all pacific means that were honourable, to avert the impending
storm. Their petitions were disregarded, and their remonstrances were "spurned with contempt from the foot of the throne." Their prayer for peace received its answer at the cannon's mouth. Their enemies appeared determined to spare no exertions to rivet on them the chains which they had forged. Navies and armies had been equipped for our subjugation, and the hostile fleets were riding in defiance upon our waters, and the hostile armies were swarming upon our shores. Our ancestors were, to all outward appearance, weak and powerless in competition with their invaders. But, to copy the vigorous expressions of one of the great men of that period, whose language we have already imitated, the contemporary sages and heroes felt, that if they were weak, they would not gather strength by delay, and they must either resolve to gird up their loins manfully and draw their swords boldly and promptly in the cause of freedom, or to lie down supinely on their backs until they were bound hand and foot and made slaves forever. Nor were they in reality so weak. They felt that "three millions of people, armed in the sacred cause of freedom, were invincible by any force which our enemy could send against us; and that we should not fight our battles alone, because there was a righteous God, who presided over the destinies of nations, and who would raise up friends to fight with us in the cause of humanity."
We will introduce one more quotation from Mr Everett's Oration, as beautiful as it is apposite.
It was the people, in their first capacity, as citizens and as freemen, starting from their beds at midnight, from their firesides, and from their fields, to take their own cause into their own hands. Such a spectacle is the height of the moral sublime; when the want of every thing is fully made up by the spirit of the cause; and the soul within stands in place of discipline, organization, resources. In the prodigious efforts of a veteran army, beneath the dazzling splendor of their array, there is something revolting to the reflective mind. The ranks are filled with the desperate, the mercenary, the depraved; an iron slavery, by the name of subordination, merges the free will of one hundred thousand men, in the unqualified despotism of one; the humanity, mercy, and remorse, which scarce ever desert the individual bosom, are sounds without a meaning to that fearful, ravenous, irrational monster of prey, a mercenary army. It is hard to say who are most to be commiserated, the wretched people on whom it is let loose, or the still more wretched people whose substance has been sucked out, to nourish it into strength and fury. But in the efforts of the people, of the people struggling for their rights, moving not in organized, disciplined masses, but in their spontaneous action, man for man, and heart for heart,-though I like not war nor any of its works,—there is something glorious. They can
then move forward without orders, act together without combination, and brave the flaming lines of battle, without entrenchments to cover, or walls to shield them. No dissolute camp has worn off from the feelings of the youthful soldier the freshness of that home, where his mother and his sisters sit waiting, with tearful eyes and aching hearts, to hear good news from the wars; no long service in the ranks of a conqueror has turned the veteran's heart into marble; their valor springs not from recklessness, from habit, from indifference to the preservation of life, knit by no pledges to the life of others. But in the strength and spirit of the cause alone they act, they contend, they bleed. In this, they conquer. The people always conquer. They always must conquer. Armies may be defeated; kings may be overthrown, and new dynasties imposed by foreign arms on an ignorant and slavish race, that care not in what language the covenant of their subjection runs, nor in whose name the deed of their barter and sale is made out. But the people never invade; and when they rise against the invader, are never subdued.
Before quitting the subject, we are tempted to pause a moment and advert to the consequences to ourselves, and the consequences to the world, of the noble and manly stand taken by our free-spirited fathers in those trying days. As to the effects of it on ourselves, we have only to cast our eyes over the green fields stretched out around us, which are waving with the rich and verdant abundance of the promised harvest, under the tillage of a hardy yeomanry, protected by a system of equal laws, and flourishing in union with all the blessings which free institutions can impart to a happy people; and ask ourselves how much of all this would have been, had not our fathers drawn the sword in vindication of their insulted rights. Or look forth upon the broad and fathomless ocean, and as you behold the canvass of our ships whitening every sea, and the striped flag of our country floating in triumph over the remotest waters, and the thunder of her cannon resounding on every shore, do you not feel persuaded that none of this glorious display of naval strength would ever have met the eye, if our ancestors had not declared, as they saw the contest approaching, Give us freedom or give us death? Enter the populous cities, which are now scattered abroad over the country, and as you hear the busy hum of active life, and see the stately palaces which arise on all sides, and note all the marks of splendor, opulence, and power, which abound in them, consider what portion of this would exist, had we continued to bow the neck to the yoke of transatlantic taskmasters. In fine, our ancestors were then feeble and oppressed colonists, they were, comparatively speaking, few in number, and they were only sprinkled along the shores of
the Atlantic or on the banks of our majestic rivers on this side of the Alleghany; but since then, and under heaven, because our sires resisted when they did, we are now wealthy, numerous, and powerful; we have taken our rank with the nations of the earth, as among the first in arts and arms,— among the first in social improvement,-and promising to continue among the first for ages yet to come. And we have now spread the empire of our civilization far into the interior regions of our country, where but a few years ago was nothing but a wide and waste wilderness, and where are now the busy haunts of men, who, the same at the mouth of the Mississippi or the Merrimac, on the far-off waters of the princely Missouri or on the sea-girt rocks of Massachusetts, are every where free-born Americans.
And unless we greatly deceive ourselves, the consequences have not been less distinctly marked upon other nations. The inhabitants of Europe and of Spanish America had for centuries been groaning under the tyranny of the feudal institutions,-obliged to cower beneath the sceptre of military despots, or to kiss the foot of haughty temporal priests. The people had no rights,-no liberties,-no privileges, but such as the condescension of their kings saw fit, out of their most princely pleasure, to grant. But the example of our revolution went forth, and taught them that there was no mystic charm in royalty which brave men could not break. The name, the fame, and the achievements of our heroes and statesmen were sounded abroad, and served as a watchword to the lovers of liberty all over the world. Our country was the birthplace of modern freedom; but no sooner had her pinions acquired strength and maturity, than she flew forth into other climes, to establish her temples on the ruins of baronial castles and feudal prison-houses..
The prophets of young freedom, summoned far,
Robed in the lightnings which his hand allayed;
these are the names, which have imparted inspiration to all who spurn at slavery, wheresoever they wander, on the banks of the Po or Tagus, the Amazon or La Plata, and which will continue to impart it, until Truth and Freedom and Justice shall cease to have a name among men.