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to turn his consciousness in upon itself, and explore, step by step, the dark passage, (dark to us, but to him we trust already lighted from above,) which connects this world with the world to come. But I know not, Mr. Chairman, what words could have been better chosen to express his relation to the world he was leaving : “ I still live. This poor dust is just returning to the dust from which it was taken ; but I feel that I live in the affections of the people to whose service I have consecrated my days. I still live. The icy hand of death is already laid on my heart, but I shall still live in those words of faithful counsel which I have uttered to my fellowcitizens, and which I now leave them, as the last bequest of a dying friend."
Mr. Chairman, in the long and honored career of our lamented friend, there are efforts and triumphs which will here. after fill one of the brightest pages in our history. But I greatly err if the closing scene — the height of the religious sublime — does not, in the judgment of other days, far transcend in interest the brightest exploits of his public life. Within that darkened chamber at Marshfield, was witnessed a scene of which we shall not readily find a parallel. The serenity with which he stood in the presence of the King of Terrors, without trepidation or flutter, for hours and days of expectation; the thoughtfulness for the public business, when the sands were so nearly run out; the hospitable care for the reception of the friends who came to Marshfield; that affectionate and solemn leave separately taken, name by name, of wife, and children, and kindred, and friends, and family, down to the humblest members of the household; the designation of the coming day, then near at hand, when “all that was mortal of Daniel Webster would cease to exist;" the dimlyrecollected strains of the funereal poetry of Gray, last faint flash of the soaring intellect; the feebly murmured words of Holy Writ from the lips of the good physician,(who, when all the resources of human art had been exhausted, had a drop of spiritual balm for the parting soul; the clasped hands; the dying prayer: Oh! my fellow-citizens, that is a consum: 1
mation, over which tears of pious sympathy will be shed, ages after the glories of the forum and the senate are forgotten.
“ His sufferings ended with the day,
Yet lived he at its close;
In statue-like repose.
But ere the sun, in all his state,
Illumed the eastern skies,
And walked in Paradise."*
• Mr. James Aldrich.
THE COLONIZATION OF AFRICA.*
MR. PRESIDENT, AND GENTLEMEN OF THE COLONIZATION So
CIETY: — It was my intention, when I was requested some weeks ago to take a part in the proceedings of this evening, to give to the subject of the Colonization Society and its operations on the coast of Africa, the most thorough examination in my power, in all its bearings; considering that, whether we look to the condition of this country, or the interests of Africa, no more important object could engage our attention. But during almost the whole of the interval that has since elapsed, my time and my thoughts have been so entirely taken up and preoccupied, that it has been altogether out of my power to make more than the hastiest preparation for the part which I am to take in this evening's proceedings. I am therefore obliged to throw myself upon the indulgence of the audience, with such an imperfect view of the subject as I have been alone able to take under the circumstances in which I have been situated.
The Colonization Society seems to me to have been the subject of much unmerited odium; of much equally unmerited indifference on the part of the great mass of the community; and to have received that attention which it so well deserves, from but very few. We behold it now only in its infancy. All that we see in this country is the quiet operation of a private association, pursuing the even tenor of its way without ostentation, without eclat; and on the coast of Af
* At the Anniversary meeting of the American Colonization Society, held in Washington City, 18th of January, 1853.
rica there is nothing to attract our attention but a small settlement, the germ of a republic, which, however prosperous, is still just commencing its existence.
But before we deride even these small beginnings, before we make up our minds that the most important futurities are not wrapped up in them, even as the spreading oak is wrapped up in the small acorn which we can hold in our fingers, we should do well to recollect the first twenty-five or thirty years of the settlement of Jamestown, in your State, Mr. President, the parent of Virginia. We should do well to remember the history of that dreadful winter at Plymouth, when more than half the Mayflower's little company were laid beneath the sod, and that sod smoothed over for fear the native savage would come and count the number of the graves. I think, if you look to what has been done in Liberia in the last quarter of a century, you will find that it compares favorably with the most and the best that was done in Virginia or in Plymouth during the same period. These seem to me to be reasons why we should not look with too much distrust at the small beginnings that have been made.
The foundation of this Society was laid in a great political and moral necessity. The measures which were taken for the suppression of the slave-trade naturally led to the capture of slave-ships; and the question immediately arose, what should be done with the victims that were rescued from them. It was necessary that they should be returned to Africa, but they could not, each and all, be sent to their native villages. They had been collected from the whole interior of that coun. try, many of them from a distance of two thousand miles in the interior, and it was out of the question that they should immediately be sent to their homes. If they had been placed upon the coast, in a body, at any of the usual points of resort, the result would have been to throw them at once back again, into the grasp of the native chiefs, who are the principal agents of the slave-trade. It was, therefore, absolutely necessary, if the course of measures undertaken for the suppression of the slave-trade was to be pursued, that some colony should be founded, under the name and influence and patronage of a powerful European or American state, where these poor victims should be placed at once, safély protected, supplied with necessary provisions of all kinds, civilized if possible, and by degrees enabled to find their way back to their native villages, which some of them, we know, both from the English and American colony, have from time to time done.
This, as I understand it, was one of the first ideas that gave origin to this Society, and, as I said before, it was a political and moral necessity. Then came the kindred object, which was more important, because applicable to a much larger number of persons, of providing a suitable home for that portion of the free colored population of this country that were desirous of emigrating to the land of their fathers. This, at first, as I understand, (for it was before my day,) was an object that approved itself almost universally throughout the country, to the South as well as to the North, to the white as well as to the colored population. Everybody seemed to think at first that this was a practicable, desirable, and most praiseworthy object. By degrees, I am sorry to say, jealousies crept in; prejudices, for so I must account them, arose; and in process of time, it has come to pass that this Society has become, I must say, intensely unpopular with a large portion of the colored population, whose interests and welfare were among the prime objects of its foundation.
I will not undertake, on this occasion, to discuss the foundation of these prejudices. I will not dwell upon those, as they are called, oppressive laws, and that still more oppressive public sentiment in all parts of the country, which render the condition of the colored population, in every part of the Union, one of disability, discouragement, and hardship. In order to meet the objection to the operations of the Society, which arises from the statement that it tends to coöperate with, and to strengthen these oppressive laws and this oppressive public sentiment, I will, for argument's sake, take it for granted, that this legislation and this sentiment are correctly thus characterized; that they are as oppressive, cruel, and tyrannical, as they are declared to be. VOL. III.