« PreviousContinue »
of Guinea, where there is fever everniore; a cry from Arctic seas, where icebergs are death; a cry from coral reefs, that ships are wrecked on horribly; a cry from many a foreign city, where the sailor, as he dies, speaks of his family, and is not understood ; a cry from mid-ocean, where many a sailor drops into a sudden grave! They ask your help, your charity, for the widows and the orphans of those who, in times past, have gone down to the sea, have gone down to the sea in ships !
15. OUR RELATIONS TO ENGLAND, 1824. — Edward Everett. Who does not feel, what reflecting American does not acknowledge, the incalculable advantages derived to this land out of the deep fountains of civil, intellectual, and moral truth, from which we have drawn in England ? What American does not feel proud that his fathers were the countrymen of Bacon, of Newton, and of Locke? Who does not know, that, while every pulse of civil liberty in the heart of the British empire beat warm and full in the bosom of our ancestors, the sobriety, the firmness, and the dignity, with which the cause of free principles struggled into existence here, constantly found encouragement and countenance from the friends of liberty there? Who does not remember, that, when the Pilgrims went over the sea, the prayers of the faithful British confessors, in all the quarters of their disper. sion, went over with them, while their aching eyes were strained till the star of hope should go up in the western skies? And who will ever forget, that, in that eventful struggle which severed these youthful republics from the British crown, there was not heard, throughout our continent in arms, a voice which spoke louder for the rights of America than that of Burke, or of Chatham, within the walls of the British Parliament, and at the foot of the British throne ? No; for myself, I can truly say, that, after my native land, I feel a tenderness and a reverence for that of my fathers. The pride I take in my own country makes me respect that from which we are sprung. In touching the soil of England, I seem to return, like a descendant, to the old family seat, — to come back to the abode of an aged and venerable parent. I acknowledge this great consanguinity of nations. The sound of my native language, beyond the sea, is a music, to my car, beyond the richest strains of Tuscan softness or Castilian majesty. I am not yet in a land of strangers, while surrounded by the manners, the habits, and the institutions, under which I have been brought up. I wander delighted through a thousand scenes, which the historians and the poets have made familiar to us, – of which the names are interwoven with our earliest associations. I tread with reverence the spots where I can retrace the footsteps of our suffering fathers. The pleasant land of their birth has a claim on my heart. It seems to me a classic, yea, a holy land; rich in the memory of the great and good, the champions and the martyrs of liberty, the exiled heralds of truth; and richer, as the parent of this land of promise in the West.
I am not I need not say I am not -- the panegyrist of England. I am not dazzled by her riches, nor awed by her power. The sceptre, the mitre, and the coronet, stars, garters, and blue ribbons, — seem to me poor things for great men to contend for. Nor is my admiration awakened by her armies, mustered for the battles of Europe; her navies, overshadowing the ocean ; nor her empire, grasping the furthost East. It is these, and the price of guilt and blood by which they are too often maintained, which are the cause why no friend of liberty can salute her with undivided affections. But it is the cradle and the refuge of free principles, though often persecuted; the school of religious liberty, the more precious for the struggles through which it has passed; the tombs of those who have reflected honor on all who speak the English tongue ; it is the birth-place of our fathers, the home of the Pilgrims; - it is these which I love and venerate in England. I should feel ashamed of an enthusiasm for Italy and Greece, did I not also feel it for a land like this. In an American, it would seem to me degenerate and ungrateful to hang with passion upon the traces of Homer and Virgil, and follow, without emotion, the nearer and plainer footsteps of Shakspeare and Milton. I should think him cold in his love for his native land who felt no melting in his heart for that other native country, which holds the ashes of his forefathers.
16. IMPERISHABILITY OF GREAT EXAMPLES. - Eduard Everett. To be cold and breathless, – to feel not and speak not, this is not the end of existence to the men who have breathed their spirits into the institutions of their country, who have stamped their characters on the pillars of the age, who have poured their hearts' blood into the channels of the public prosperity. Tell me, ye who tread the sods of yon sacred height, is Warren dead? Can you not still see him, not pale and prostrate, the blood of his gallant heart pouring out of his ghastly wound, but moving resplendent over the field of honor, with the rose of Fleaven upon his cheek, and the fire of liberty in his eye? Tell me, ye who make your pious pilgrimage to the shades of Vernon, is Wash ington, indeed, shut up in that cold and narrow house? That which made these men, and men like these, cannot die. The hand that traced the charter of Independence is, indeed, motionless; the eloquent lips that sustained it are hushed; but the lofty spirits that conceived, resolved, and maintained it, and which alone, to such men, “make it life to live,” these cannot expire :
“ These shall resist the empire of decay,
When time is o’er, and worlds have passed away ;
17. CIVILIZATION OF AFRICA, 1832. — Edward Everett. It is said that it is impossible to civilize Africa. Why? Why is it impossible to civilize man in one part of the earth more than in another ? Consult history. Was Italy — was Greece — the cradle of civilization ? No. As far back as the lights of tradition reach, Africa was the cradle of science, while Syria, and Greece, and Italy, were yet covered with darkness. As far back as we can trace the first rudiments of improvement, they came from the very head waters of the Nile, far in the interior of Africa ; and there are yet to be found, in shapeless ruins, the monuments of this primeval civilization. To come down to a much later period, while the West and North of Europe were yet barbarous, the Mediterranean coast of Africa was filled with cities, academies, museums, churches, and a highly civilized population. What has raised the Gaul, the Belgium, the Germany, the Scandinavia, the Britain, of ancient geography, to their present improved and improving condition? Africa is not now sunk lower than most of those countries were eighteen centuries ago; and the engines of social influence are increased a thousand-fold in numbers and efficacy. It is not eighteen hundred years ago since Scotland, whose metropolis has been called the Athens of modern Europe, — the country of Hume, of Smith, of Robertson, of Blair, of Stewart, of Brown, of Jeffrey, of Chalmers, of Scott, of Brougham, -was a wilderness, infested by painted savages. It is not a thousand years since the North of Germany, now filled with beautiful cities, learned universities, and the best educated population in the world, was a dreary, pathless forest.
Is it possible that, before an assembly like this,- an assembly of Americans, — it can be necessary to argue the possibility of civilizing Africa, through the instrumentality of a colonial establishment, and that in a comparatively short time? It is but about ten years since the foundations of the colony of Liberia were laid ; and every one acquainted with the early history of New England knows that the colony at Liberia has made much greater progress than was made by the settlement at Plymouth in the same period. More than once were the first settlements in Virginia in a position vastly less encouraging than that of the American colony on the coast of Africa; and yet, from these feeble beginnings in New England and Virginia, what has not been brought about in two hundred years ? Two hundred years ago, and the Continent of North America, for the barbarism of its native population, and its remoteness from the sources of improvement, was all that Africa is now. Impossible to civilize Africa! Sir, the work is already, in no small part, accomplished.
18. WHAT GOOD WILL THE MONUMENT DO? 1833.- Eduard Everett. I am met with the great objection, What good will the Monument do? I beg leave, Sir, to exercise my birthright as a Yankee, and, answer this question by asking two or three more, to which I believe it will be quite as difficult to furnish a satisfactory reply. I am asked, What good will the monument do ? And I ask, what good does anything do? What is good? Does anything do any good? The persons who suggest this objection, of course, think that there are some projects and undertakings that do good; and I should therefore like to have the idea of good explained, and analyzed, and run out to its
elements. When this is done, if I do not demonstrate, in about two minutes, that the monument does the same kind of good that anything else does, I shall consent that the huge blocks of granite, already laid, should be reduced to gravel, and carted off to fill up the mill-pond; for that, I suppose, is one of the good things. Does a railroad or canal do good ? Answer, yes. And how? It facilitates intercourse, opens markets, and increases the wealth of the country. But what is this good for? Why, individuals prosper and get rich. And what good does that do? Is mere wealth, as an ultimate end, gold and silver, without an inquiry as to their use, are these a good ? Certainly not. I should insult this audience by attempting to prove that a rich man, as such, is neither better nor happier than a poor one. But, as men grow rich, they live better. Is there any good in this, stopping here? Is mere animal life
feeding, working, and sleeping like an ox – entitled to be called good ? Certainly not. But these improvements increase the population. And what good does that do? Where is the good in counting twelve millions, instead of six, of mere feeding, working, sleeping animals ? There is, then, no good in the mere animal life, except that it is the physical basis of that higher moral existence, which resides in the soul, the heart, the mind, the conscience; in good principles, good feelings, and the good actions (and the more disinterested, the more entitled to be called good) which flow from them. Now, Sir, I say that generous and patriotic sentiments, sentiments which prepare us to serve our country, to live for our country, to die for our country, — feelings like those which carried Prescott and Warren and Putnam to the battle-field, are good, — good, humanly speaking, of the highest order. It is good to have them, good to encourage them, good to honor them, good to commemorate them; and whatever tends to animate and strengthen such feelings does as much right down practical good as filling up low grounds and building railroads. This is my demonstration.
19. TO THE REVOLUTIONARY VETERANS. - Daniel Webster, at the laying of the cor
ner-stone of the Bunker Hill Monument, June 17, 1520. We hold still among us some of those who were active agents in the scenes of 1775, and who are now here, from every quarter of New England, to visit once more, and under circumstances so affecting, I had almost said so overwhelming, — this renowned theatre of their courage and patriotism.
Venerable men! you have come down to us from a former generation. Heaven has bounteously lengthened out your lives, that you might behold this joyous day. You are now, where you stood, fifty years ago, this very hour, with your brothers, and your neighbors, shoulder to shoulder, in the strife for your country. Behold, how altered. The same heavens are indeed over your heads; the same ocean rolls at your feet; but all else how changed! You hear now no roar of hostile cannon, you see now no mixed volumes of smoke
and flame rising from burning Charlestown. The ground strewed with the dead and the dying; the impetuous charge; the steady and successful repulse ; the loud call to repeated assault; the summoning of all that is manly to repeated resistance; a thousand bosoms freely and fearlessly bared in an instant to whatever of terror there may be in war and death;— all these you have witnessed, but you witness them no more.
All is peace. The heights of yonder metropolis, its towers and roofs, which you then saw filled with wives and children and countrymen in distress and terror, and looking with unutterable emotions for the issue of the combat, have presented you to-day with the sight of its whole happy population come out to welcome and greet you with an universal jubilee. All is peace; and God has granted you this sight of your country's happiness, cre you slumber in the grave forever.
But, alas! you are not all here. Time and the sword have thinned your ranks. Prescott, Putnam, Stark, Brooks, Read, Pomeroy, Bridge!
our eyes seek for you vain amidst this broken ind. But let us not too much grieve, that you have met the common fate of
You lived to see your country's independence established, and to sheathe your swords from war. On the light of Liberty, you saw arise the light of Peace, like
“ Another morn
Risen on mid-noon;”. and the sky on which you closed your eyes was cloudless.
But — ah!- him! the first great martyr in this great cause ! Him! the premature victim of his own self-devoting heart! Him! the head of our civil councils, and the destined leader of our military bands, whom nothing brought hither but the unquenchable fire of his own spirit! Him! cut off by Providence in the hour of overwhelming anxiety and thick gloom ; falling, ere he saw the star of his country rise ; pouring out his generous blood, like water, before he knew whether it would fertilize a land of freedom or of bondage!—how shall I struggle with the emotions that stifle the utterance of thy name! Our poor work may perish, but thine shall endure! This monument may moulder away; the solid ground it rests upon may sink down to a level with the sea ; but thy memory shall not fail! Wheresoever among men a heart shall be found that beats to the transports of patriotism and liberty, its aspirations shall be to claim kindred with thy spirit !
Veterans ! you are the remnant of many a well-fought field. You bring with you marks of honor from Trenton and Monmouth, from Yorktown, Camden, Bennington, and Saratoga. Veterans of half a century! when, in your youthful days, you put everything at hazard in your country's cause, good as that cause was, and sanguine as youth is, still your fondest hopes did not stretch onward to an hour like this! Look abroad into this lovely land, which your young valor defended, and mark the happiness with which it is filled ; yea, look abroad into the whole earth, and see what a name you have contributed to give to