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trated the secrets of thirty centuries. But in Greece and in Rome, which (with the exception of what pertains to our religion) make up most of what we call antiquity, it is impossible not to perceive that, with all their struggles toward a purer civilization, the sword and the sceptre, - military power and political control, — governed the world. As these passed from region to region and from hand to hand, they seemed to carry with them the destinies of the human race. The battle of Salamis, the conquests of Alexander, the defeat of Pompey, the Grecian phalanx and the Roman pike, settled the fate of mankind.
Founded upon physical force, partially enlightened by an intellectual culture, which, though exquisitely refined, took but little hold of the general mind, and, what is far more important, was almost wholly destitute of spiritual vitality, — the ancient civilization perished at length by the agency through which it had grown. Force was subdued by force. From the unexplored deserts of Northern Europe and Asia, a succession of barbarous tribes was poured down for fifteen hundred years on the degenerate South, till the last remnant of the ancient world fell before the last irruption of Asiatic barbarity, at the capture of Constantinople by the Turks, in the middle of the fifteenth century.
Here we may place a distinct epoch in the continuous history of our race; the end of the old world and the beginning of the new ;- not sharply defined but gradually commingling, the former fading away as the latter brightens into being. Henceforward, mere physical force ceases so much to control the world; and physical power itself parts with its character of brute violence, and allies itself with arts, with science, with letters, with opinions, and morals. While darkness still brooded over mediæval Europe, a discovery was made by the rude chemistry of the day, (I allude of course to the invention of gunpowder,) which entirely changed the nature of military operations, and, greatly reducing the sphere of physical force, essentially contributed to put an end to private war, one of the chief scourges of the middle ages. Another great secret disclosed by experimental science, the polarity of the magnet, eventually effected a revolution in the commerce of the world. The Turkish conquest, though it trampled down the last remnants of learning in its native seats, sent out hundreds of learned men to the west of Europe, and with them the knowledge of the ancient Grecian literature. The invention of printing effected a combination of intellectual and mechanical agency, powerful beyond every thing the world had yet imagined; and at this most important juncture, Columbus solved the greatest problem of the physical creation, by the discovery of a new world.
From this time forward, a new influence is at work, and new tendencies disclose themselves at home and abroad. By the new and powerful agencies to which we have alluded, a rapid progress of reorganization goes on in Europe: Society is built up from the ruins of the dark ages. The family of States is enlarged, laws and constitutions acquire a recognized power beyond the will of the sovereign; social life ventures out of the walled towns as property becomes secure; and in the more advanced States of Europe, especially in England, the people begin to be a substantial reality in the political system. This was greatly promoted by the struggles for religious freedom. The spirit of the reformation moved upon the face of the waters, and light, and order, and liberty rose from the political and social chaos.
But the settlement and colonization of America, this mighty extension of the domain of civilization, - this transmission of the culture of the old world to regions lying in a state of nature, under the happiest auspices for needed reformation and further progress, — was the important work to be achieved in the new order of things. It would require a space greatly beyond the limits of the present occasion, and involve a reference to some of the most perplexing questions of civil polity, to sketch even the outlines of the history of. the measures undertaken to accomplish this end. I will only observe that it was attempted by Spain and Portugal on the one hand; by England, and, to a very limited degree, hy Holland and Sweden on the other. The Catholic powers, of Latin origin, occupied the southern continent, Mexico, and Florida. «The Protestantism of the Anglo-Saxon States, took possession of the North. The former established a vast governmental monopoly of the precious metals and the commerce of the East; by the latter the work was left to private adventure, feebly protected by the State ; and as far as New England is concerned, prompted and cheered by a glowing zeal for religious liberty.. France preceded England in the occupation of North America. With one foot at the mouth of the Mississippi, and the other on the gulf of the St. Lawrence, and a line of posts along the lakes, she rendered it doubtful for two centuries, to whom North America would belong, or in what proportions it should be divided between the two great schools of European civilization. But England had planted a belt of brave and resolute colonists along the Atlantic coast; no rays of royal favor beamed upon the hardy germ; it grew up unprotected, despised, scarcely heard of in the great world of European politics, till it overshadowed the land.
As we look back, by the lights of experience, on the events of our early history, the occupation of the interior of our continent by France seems to have served no other purpose than to bind together the English colonies, in their infancy and youth, by a sense of common danger, and the principle of repulsion to a foreign nationality. I know not that history affords a more memorable lesson than is contained in the fact, that when England conquered the French colonies in America, she did but exchange them for her own. This result, foretold by Montcalm himself, received its memorable confirmation on the summit of Bunker Hill, when Putnam, and Prescott, and Pomroy, and Gridley, and Stark, veterans of the seven years' war, showed themselves apt pupils of the great school of Anglo-Saxon courage and discipline. The men who, led by a spirit of loyalty alone, had followed the British banner to Martinico and Cuba, to Louisburg and Quebec, whose blood had stirred at the blast of the British trumpet, by the lonely waters of Ontario and the silent banks of the St. Lawrence, were not likely to quail, when they struck for the liberties of their country, in the bosom of home;
at this grand altar, which rose up in the very heart of New England; in the presence of the anxious thousands of kindred spectators, who looked on from every eminence in the neighborhood. The battery on Copp's Hill did not terrify them ; it was planted over the graves of four generations of an indomitable and patriotic ancestry. As General Gage stood upon the summit of that hill on the morning of the 17th, surveying the redoubt through his glass, he pointed to Prescott, who, to encourage his men, was moving about on the top of the glacis, under the fire of the ships of war and the batteries, and he inquired of Col. Willard, one of his council, who stood near him, who it was? Willard replied that it was his brother-in-law, Col. Prescott.“ Will he fight?" asked the governor. “ Yes, sir," said Willard,“ to the last drop of his blood; but I cannot answer for his men.” The men, however, in the course of the day answered for themselves.
And who will deny that the cause in which they perilled, and some of them sacrificed, their lives, the great cause of the American revolution, was worthy of its cost, “the most important event perhaps,” says Lord Brougham,* " in the history of our species;” a mighty drama in human affairs ?
I. The first great act of this drama was the struggle for constitutional rights, carried on almost from the settlement of the country. The several colonies complained of grievances, some general and some local, some important and some trifling, almost from their origin. These grievances were partly inherent in the nature of colonial government, partly owing to the mistaken policy of times and of men.t
* Political Philosophy, Vol. III. p. 329.
† I have, in a recent speech at Concord, on the 19th of April, see Volume II. p. 659, referred to the opinion lately expressed by Lord John Russell, (an opinion which does equal credit to his discernment and candor,) that the policy, on the part of the British ministry, which caused the revolution,“ was a series of repeated errors and blunders.” I have, within a few days, seen in an interesting volume, containing “Sketches of the lives of Lords Stowell and Eldon, by Mr. William E. Surtees," a letter from Lord Eldon, then Mr. Scott, written in 1782, in which he uses the following language, which from him may be considered quite worthy of note :—“I own I cannot bring my proud heart down to yield Gibraltar, nor is absolute How far it would have been possible, by wise and conciliatory counsels and measures, to preserve the bond unbroken, is a curious question in political history. The experience of Europe in all ages has led to the conclusion, that monarchical government cannot be sustained without a gradation of orders in the State. Such a gradation is entirely inconsistent with the condition of society in colonial settlements, carrying from the mother country all the general principles of constitutional government. It belongs to the conception of aristocratical institutions to cluster round a court. The attempt which was made to introduce a distinction of orders into South Carolina, by the strange constitution drawn up by Locke, a sincere friend of liberty, is a melancholy illustration of the difference between practical statesmanship and theoretical philosophy. The arduous work of settling a remote wilderness, of planting human families in these world-wide spaces, can proceed upon no basis but that of Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity; for we must not be deterred by any abuses, ancient or modern, from the use of these noble words. Perverted as they have been, they draw their true meaning from the sacred depths of our common nature. Our fathers wrested them, in a right acceptation, from an oppressive government, and we must not allow the guillotines or barricades of earlier or later days to dishearten us from their assertion. What Warren and Prescott won for us on Bunker Hill, we must not sacrifice to any of the monsters either of anarchy or despotism, which have brought reproach upon the name of liberty.
It remains a political problem, of which the next hundred · years will probably furnish the solution, whether it is possible, beyond a certain point, to retain a distant colonial dependency. The experiment is now making in the English colonies on the largest scale. The grievances which brought on the American revolution have long since been redressed; all thought of colonial taxation, in aid of the revenues of the
American Independence a bit more agreeable to my ears and feelings, than absolute unconditional American submission was.” -- p. 82.