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OUR OWN COUNTRY.
THERE is no such scenery on earth, I verily believe,
There is but one Niagara in its broad circumference. And then its glorious rivers, from the tumbling cataracts of high Northern latitudes, to the calm and beautiful Alabama — the majestic Mississippi — the golden waters of Missouri — the placid, soft Ohio. And then, too, its lakes -- the vast inland seas, where fleets can ride —its forests, alive with songsters of almost every note, and every feather, of trees of every cast and hue, and, if seen in the frosts of Autumn, beyond the power of pencil to paint, mocking the skill of man — rivaling the rich sunset on the bosom of the western clouds, and making a very paradise of earth! And then its boundless prairies -its savannahs - its vast havens, on which beat the waves of the ocean with their sullen roar, and its still solitudes, where man feels as if he really were alone with the Indian — the wild, unapproached, and almost unapproachable Indian, in his savage dignity, painted and decked for war, fiery red, with his armor on “snorting for battle," --- and then again its noisy cities, where men crowd, and rush, as if the spot of earth on which they were was their only spot - cities now vieing in business with the older cities of Europe, but yet in the gristle-in their swaddling clothes, as it were—by and by to become the Londons of the Western World! What a variety of view is this! How
rich in speculation, in thought! How admirably calculated to warm the imagination, and to give feeling and imagery!
Talk not then of Europe as the only land worth a journey over. Its past we may reverence and admire. There is sublimity in it. But the future of our country— who dare set its metes and bounds? Who will trace it out? Sublime, is but a feeble word for the destiny that awaits it!
What nation presents such a spectacle as ours, of a confederated government; so complicated, so full of checks and balances, orer such a vast extent of territory- with so many varied interests, and yet moving so harmoniously! I go within the walls of the capitol at Washington, and there, under the star-spangled banners that wave amid its domes, I find the representatives of three territories, and of twenty-six nationsnations in many senses, they may be called - that have within them all the germ and sinew to raise a greater people than many of the proud principalities of Europe; all speaking one language; all acting with one heart, and all burning with the same enthusiasm - the love and glory of our common country-even though parties do exist, and bitter domestic quarrels now and then arise.
I take my map, and I mark from whence they come. What a breadth of latitude, and of longitude, too, in the fairest portion of North America! What a variety of climate, and what a variety of production! What a stretch of sea coast, on two oceans, with harbors enough for all the commerce of the world! What an immense national domain, surveyed and unsurveyed, of extinguished and unextinguished Indian titles, within the States and Territories, and without, estimated, in the aggregate, to be more than one billion acres, and to be worth the immense sum of more than one billion dollars— seven hundred and fifty million acres of which are without the bounds of the States and Territories, and are yet to make new States, and to be admitted into the Union!
Our annual revenue, now, from the sales, is over three millions of dollars. Our national debt, too, is nearly or quite extinguished - and yet within fifty-eight years, starting with a population of about three millions, we have fought the War of Independence; again not ingloriously struggled with the greatest naval power in the world, fresh with laurels won on sea and land, and now we have a population of over seventeen millions of souls. One cannot feel the grandeur of our Republic, unless he surveys it in detail.
It is difficult to be very prosaic in describing such a country as ours. Think, if a prophet, but thirty years ago, had predicted only the half that has happened, lucky would he have been to escape the asylum for lunatics. Jefferson mourned over a journey from Monticello to Philadelphia, as a fearful undertaking. Mount Vernon and Bunker-Hill were as far apart, in the days of Washington, as the jumping-off rock in Eastport, (Maine,) and Augusta, (Georgia,) now are. The Mississippi boatman, who was thirty or forty days in going over a distance he now goes in six, can now hardly believe that he is the man he was. The steamboat and the steam-horse, are the miracle-workers of
the day. But, then, enterprise and labor have done their wonders, too.
The Erie canal! What an achievement for a young people! The Chesapeake and Ohio canal, too! Go over it, and see how labor has wrought with mountain rocks, and torn them from their beds, and dashed them aside, as if with the power of Milton's demons. See the fire-horse, with long trains of cars, careering through the air, over rivers, and pathless swamps, from Charleston, South-Carolina, to Hamburgh, on the Savannah. Take the railroad from Boston to Providence, and see the rocks that have been cleft asunder, the mountains of dirt thrown up- the track now through caverns, and anon over a massive bridge of mason work, that almost staggers human faith ta believe it has been done.
And then mark what enterprise is planning, and will execute, too. Why, railroad tracks are projecting in all directions, from New Orleans to Nashville, in the South, and from Quebec to Portland, in the North. No enterprise staggers us. Nothing appals us. No hazard too great to be run. Ingenuity is racked to the utmost. Every body is awake, and wide awake. There is, as it were, an atmospheric maelstrom all about us.
We talk in a hurry. We walk in a hurry. . We make love in a hurry, and are married in a hurry. We eat, drink, sleep, and die in a hurry, and, alas! are buried in a hurry. Every thing is on the high pressure principle. No doubt such a state of fermentation, in any society, has its advantages and disadvantages.
It is one of the advantages of our free institutions, that they give society such a stimulus. Our politics, even with all their bitterness and occasional outbreakings, do us much good. They teach us that no man is above the influence of public opinion; and they also teach each man the responsibility he takes in forming it. They raise up the humble, and rank them with the proud. They stimulate in the bosoms of all, the ambition to advance— or, to
to use a phrase better descriptive of the thing itself.
The political cauldron that is always boiling in such a government as ours, throws up on the surface of society many men of strong minds, and high purposes: and though often — too often, it may be the very seethings of the cauldron will come up too, yet, in a moment of calm, they sink to their proper level, while what is good remains. Death, too, is a great leveler among us; and if it would not be impious, I would add, the severest of all Republicans. The family whom overgrown' wealth was making proud to-day, death cuts up to-morrow--dividing its inheritance, scattering its members, and often robbing it of its natal soil. The incipient aristocracy is thus nipped in the bud. The wealth of a Girard is instantly divided among many persons.
How remarkable the fact, all over this country, that wealth seldom runs long in the same line, but that the heritage is rather a curse than a blessing for the children: and how remarkable the other fact, too, that almost all the large holders of property are the makers of their own fortunes; men who have earned it with their own hands, and by their own struggles. The