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BATTLE OF BUNKER HILL.*
When I contemplate the surrounding objects, and consider how much of our prosperity is due to the event which we commemorate this day, I cannot but call to mind the epitaph of the architect of St. Paul's: If you seek for a monument look around you. We have indeed erected an enduring monument on the hill before us. No ordinary human violence will shake the solid column. The storms of a thousand winters will beat upon it in vain; the earthquake and the lightning alone can lay it low. But while this noble monument shall for ever mark the very spot where our fathers deserved well of their country, I behold before us and around us, not less expressive memorials of their principles and their characters.
This building, which has sent forth some of those floating castles, on which you, sir, (Commodore Downes,) and your brave associates, have borne the naval thunders of America to the furthest seas, does it not, hung as it is with the banners of every nation, and none more honored than our own, remind us of that tremendous day, when, beneath a summer's sun and a canopy of smoke and flame, our fathers, (without a friend at that time among the nations of the earth,) stood for thirteen hours the shock of the unequal contest? That formidable park of artillery, how does it not contrast with the six poor field-pieces of the 17th June;- the noble ships moored in the harbor, — one of them, the Ohio, bearing the name of a mighty State, in which, at that time, the smoke of a white man's cabin had never curled on the breeze, - a ship
* An Oration delivered on the 17th of June, 1850, in the ship-house in the Navy Yard in Charlestown, being the seventy-fifth anniversary of the battle, which has just returned from her cruise along those golden shores of the Pacific, which have lately been added to our great republican empire ; – the very spot beneath our feet, near which the royal army landed on the 17th June, 1775; I say, fellow-citizens, do not these objects, each and all, constitute a most expressive monument to the great men of that day?
Friends and fellow-citizens; it was among the original objects of the Bunker Hill Monument Association, to perpetuate, by stated celebrations, the glorious memory of the 17th of June, 1775. Its first purpose, of course, was to erect an imperishable landmark on the spot itself. But it was another object of the Association, announced among its earliest proceedings, as you, sir, (Hon. Thomas Handasyd Perkins,) are well aware, for you were among its earliest promoters and officers, to provide for the stated commemoration of the battle. We borrowed the form of the monument from the structures of ancient Egypt, but we did not intend that it should stand like the obelisks and pyramids, a silent mystery to the successive generations that gaze upon them. We wished that, from time to time, there should go forth a faithful record of the glorious event, and of the all-important principles to which the monument is consecrated; and while the majestic shaft itself, from the clouds to which it towers, shall address its solemn eloquence to the eye, that the pen and voice, to the end of time, should interpret its illustrious significance to the understanding and the heart.
But when I consider, fellow-citizens, that but seven years have elapsed since you were addressed on the summit of Bunker Hill, on occasion of the completion of the monument, by the great master of American eloquence, and that many present must freshly recollect the matchless strain to which they listened, from the same lips, on this day twentyfive years ago, I feel how hopeless is the task I have undertaken. What can I attempt to say to you, which was not said on those occasions, in a manner which leaves nothing to be amended and nothing to be added ? Even if I should confine myself to a simple narrative of the events of the day,