Page images
PDF
EPUB

States ; united in interest and in affection ; united in everything in regard to which the Constitution has decreed their union ; united in war, for the common defence, the common renown, and the common glory; and united, compacted, knit firmly together, in peace, for the common prosperity and happiness of curselves and our children!

D. Webster

CXXIV.

TAE VETERANS OF THE BATTLE OF BUNKER HILL. THE great event in the history of the Continent, which we

are now met here to commemorate, that prodigy of modern times, at once the wonder and the blessing of the world, is the American Revolution. In a day of extraordinary prosperity and happiness, of high national honor, distinction, and power, we are brought together, in this place, by our love of country, by our admiration of exalted character, by our gratitude for signal services and patriotic devotion. And we now stand here to enjoy all the blessings of our own condition, and to look abroad on the brightened prospects of the world, while we still have 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 may 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 no mixed volumes of smoke and flame rising from burning Charlestown. The ground strowed 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 a universal jubilee. Yonder proud ships, by a felicity of position appropriately lying at the foot of this mount, and seeming fondly to cling around it, are not means of annoyance to you, but your country's own means of distinction and defence. All is peace ; and God has granted you this sight of your country's happiness, ere you slumber in the grave. He has allowed you to behold and to partake the reward of your patriotic toils; and he has allowed us, your sons and countrymen, to meet you here, and in the name of the present generation, in the name of your country, in the name of liberty, to thank you!

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 in vain amid this broken band. You are gathered to your fathers, and live only to your country in her grateful remembrance and your own bright example. But let us not too much grieve, that you have met the common fate of men. You lived at least long enough to know that your work had been nobly and successfully accomplished. 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

6 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 kin:ired with thy spirit !

D. Wedster

CXXV.

REPLY TO THE REFLECTIONS OF MR. WALPOLE.

SIR, the atrocious crime of being a young man, which the

honorable gentleman has, with such spirit and decency charged upon me, I shall neither attempt to palliate nor deny ; but content myself with wishing, that I may be one of those whose follies cease with their youth ; and not of that number who are ignorant in spite of experience.

Whether youth can be imputed to any man as a reproach, I will not, sir, assume the province of determining; but surely, age may become justly contemptible, -- if the opportunities which it brings have passed away without improvement, and vice appears to prevail when the passions have subsided. The wretch who, after having seen the consequences of a thousand errors, continues still to blunder, and whose age has only added obstinacy to stupidity, is surely the object of either abhorrence or contempt; and deserves not that his gray hairs should secure lim from insult. Much more, sir, is he to be abhorred, — who, as he has advanced in age, has receded from virtue, and becomes more wicked with less temptation ; who prostitutes himself for money which he cannot enjoy, and spends the remains of his life in the ruin of his country.

But youth, sir, is not my only crime. I have been accused of acting a theatrical part. A theatrical part may either imply some peculiarities of gesture, or dissimulation of my rral senti

man

ments, and the adoption of the opinions and language of another

In the first sense the charge is too trifling to be confuted, and deserves only to be mentioned that it may be despised. I am at liberty, like every other man, to use my own language : and though I may, perhaps, have some ambition, yet to please this gentleman, I shall not lay myself under any restraint, nor very solicitously copy his diction, or his mien, however matured by age, or modelled by experience. If any man shall, by charging me with theatrical behavior, imply that I utter any sentiments but my own, I shall treat him as a calumniator and a villain ; nor shall any protection shelter him from the treatment he deserves. I shall, on such an occasion, without scruple trample upon all those forms with which wealth and dignity intrench themselves, nor shall anything but age restrain my resentment; age which always brings one privilege, that of being insolent and supercilious without punishment. But with regard, sir, to those whom I have offended, I am of opinion, that if I had acted a borrowed part I should have avoided their censure ; the heat that offended them was the ardor of conviction, and that zeal for the service of my country, which neither hope nor fear shall influence me to suppress. I will not sit unconcerned while my liberty is invaded, nor look in silence upon public robbery. I will exert my endeavors, at whatever hazard, to repel the aggressor, and drag the thief to justice, — whoever may protect them in their villainy, and whoever may partake of their plunder.

Lord Chatham.

CXXVI.

SPEECH AGAINST THE AMERICAN WAR.

I CANNOT, my Lords, I will not, join in congratulation on

misfortune and disgrace. This, my Lords, is a perilous and tremendous moment. It is not a time for adulation : the smoothness of flattery cannot save us in this rugged and awful crisis. It is now necessary to instruct the throne in the language of truth. We must, if possible, dispel the delusion and darkness which envelop it, and display, in its full danger and genuine colors, the ruin which is brought to our doors. Can ministers still

presume to expect support in their infatuation? Can parliament be so dead to its dignity and duty, as to give their support to measures thus obtruded and forced upon them ? Measures, my Lords, which have reduced this late flourishing empire to scorr and contempt. “ But yesterday, and Britain might have stooc against the world ; now, none so poor as to do her reverence. The people, whom we at first despised as rebels, but whom we now acknowledge as enemies, are abetted against us, supplied with every military store, have their interests consulted, and their ambassadors entertained by our inveterate enemy

- and ministers do not, and dare not, interpose with dignity or effect. The desperate state of our army abroad is in part known. No man more highly esteems and honors the British troops than I do; I know their virtues and their valor : know they can achieve anything but impossibilities ; and I know that the conquest of British America is an impossibility. You cannot, my Lords, you cannot conquer America. What is your present situation there? We do not know the worst ; but we know that in three campaigns, we have done nothing, and suffered much. You may swell every expense, accumulate every assistance, and extend your

traffic to the shambles of every German despot ; your attempts will be forever vain and impotent — doubly so, indeed, from this mercenary aid on which you rely ; for it irritates, to an incurable resentment, the minds of your adversaries, to overrun them with the mercenary sons of rapine and plunder, devoting them and their possessions to the rapacity of hireling cruelty. If I were an American, as I am an Englishman, while a foreign troop was landed in my country, I never would lay down iny arms never, NEVER, NEVER!

Lord Chatham.

CXXVII.

SPEECH AGAINST EMPLOYING INDIANS IN WAR.

BUT, my Lords, who is the man that

, in addition to the dis graces and mischiefs of our army, has dared to authorize and associate to our arms the tomahawk and scalping-knife of the savage ?

to call into civilized alliance the wild and inhuman inhabitants of the woods ? to delegate to the merciless Indian

« PreviousContinue »