« PreviousContinue »
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,t 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.
liarly devoted to them, but let it never be dishonored with a contracted and exclusive spirit. Our affections as citizens embrace the whole extent of the union, and the names of Raleigh, Smith, Winthrop, Calvert, Penn and Oglethorpe, excite in our minds recollections equally pleasing, and gratitude equally fervent with those of Carver and Bradford. Two centuries have not yet elapsed since the first European foot touched the soil which now constitutes the American union. Two centuries more and our numbers must exceed those of Europe herself. The destinies of this empire, as they appear in prospect before us, disdain the powers of human calculation. Yet, as the original founder of the Roman state is said once to have lifted upon his shoulders the fame and fortunes of all his posterity, so let us never forget that the glory and greatness of all our descendants is in our hands. Preserve, in all their purity, refine, if possible, from all their alloy, those virtues which we this day commemorate as the ornament of our forefathers. Adhere to them with inflexible resolution, as to the horns of the altar; instill them with unwearied perseverance into the minds of your children; bind your souls and theirs to the national union as the chords of life are centred in the heart, and you shall soar with rapid and steady wing to the summit of human glory. Nearly a century ago, one of those rare minds* to whom it is given to discern future greatness in its seminal principles, upon contemplating the situation of this continent, pronounced in a vein of poetic inspiration,
• Westward the Star of empire takes its way.' Let us all unite in ardent supplications to the Founder of nations and the Builder of worlds, that what then was prophecy, may continue unfolding into historythat the dearest hopes of the human race may not be extinguished in disappointment, and that the last may prove the noblest empire of time.
EULOGY ON ALEXANDER HAMILTON.
PRONOUNCED AT THE REQUEST OF THE CITIZENS OF BOS
TON, JULY 26, 1804,
BY HARRISON G. OTIS.
We are convened, afflicted fellow-citizens, to perform the only duties which our republics acknowledge or fulfil to their illustrious dead; to present to departed excellence an oblation of gratitude and respect; to inscribe its virtues on the urn which contains its ashes, and to consecrate its example by the tears and sympathy of an affectionate people.
Must we, then, realize that Hamilton is no more! Must the sod, not yet cemented on the tomb of Washington, still moist with our tears, be so soon disturbed to admit the beloved companion of Washington, the partner of his dangers, the object of his confidence, the disciple who leaned upon his bosom! Insatiable Death! Will not the heroes and statesmen, whom mad ambition has sent from the crimsoned fields of Europe, suffice to people thy dreary dominions! Thy dismal avenues have been thronged with princely martyrs and illustrious victims. Crowns and sceptres, the spoils of royalty, are among thy recent trophies, and the blood of innocence and valor has flowed in torrents at thy inexorable command. Such have been thy ravages in the old world. And in our infant country how small was the remnant of our revolutionary heroes which had been spared from thy fatal grasp! Could not our Warren, our Montgomery, our Mercer, our Greene, our Washington appease thy vengeance for a few short years! Shall none of our early patriots be permitted to behold the perfection of their own work in
the stability of our government and the maturity of our institutions! Or hast thou predetermined, dread King of Terrors! to blast the world's best hope, and by depriving us of all the conductors of our glorious revolution, compel us to bury our liberties in their tombs! O Hamilton! great would be the relief of my mind, were I permitted to exchange the arduous duty of attempting to portray the varied excellence of thy character, for the privilege of venting the deep and unavailing sorrow which swells my bosom, at the remembrance of the gentleness of thy nature, of thy splendid talents and placid virtues! But, my respected friends, an indulgence of these feelings would be inconsistent with that deliberate recital of the services and qualities of this great man, which is required by impartial justice and your expectations.
In governments which recognize the distinctions of splendid birth and titles, the details of illustrious lineage and connexions, become interesting to those who are accustomed to value those advantages. But in the man whose loss we deplore, the interval between manhood and death was so uniformly filled by a display of the energies of his mighty mind, that the world has scarcely paused to inquire into the story of his infant or puerile years. He was a planet, the dawn of which was not perceived; which rose with full splendor, and emitted a constant stream of glorious light until the hour of its sudden and portentous eclipse.
At the age of eighteen, while cultivating his mind at Columbia College, he was roused from the leisure and delights of scientific groves by the din of war. He entered the American army as an officer of artillery, and at that early period familiarized himself to wield both his sword and his pen in the service of his country. He developed at once the qualities which command precedency, and the modesty which conceals its pretensions. Frank, affable, intelligent and brave, young Hamilton became the favorite of his fellow-soldiers. His intuitive perception and correct judgment rendered him a rapid proficient in military science, and his merit silenced the envy which it excited.
A most honorable distinction now awaited him. He attracted the attention of the commander-in-chief, who appointed him an aid, and honored him with his confidence and friendship. This domestic relation afforded to both, frequent means of comparing their opinions upon the policy and destinies of our country, upon the sources of its future prosperity and grandeur, upon the imperfection of its existing establishments; and to digest those priuciples, which, in happier times, might be interwoven into a more perfect model of goyernment. Hence, probably, originated that filial veneration for Washington and adherence to his maxims, which were ever conspicuous in the deportment of Hamilton ; and hence the exalted esteem and predilection uniformly displayed by the magnanimous patron to the faithful and affectionate pupil.
While the disasters of the American army, and the perseverance of the British ministry, presented the gloomy prospect of protracted warfare, young Hamilton appeared to be content in his station, and with the opportunities which he had of fighting by the side, and executing the orders of his beloved chief. But the investment of the army of Cornwallis suddenly changed the aspect of affairs, and rendered it probable, that this campaign, if successful, would be the most brilliant and decisive of any that was likely to occur. appeared, that his heart had long panted for an occasion to signalize his intrepidity and devotion to the service of his country. He obtained, by earnest entreaties, the command of a detachment destined to storm the works of Yorktown. It is well known with what undaunted courage he pressed on to the assault, with unloaded arms, presented his bosom to the dangers of the bayonet, carried the fort, and thus eminently contributed to decide the fate of the battle and of his country. But even here the impetuosity of the