« AnteriorContinuar »
souled day. The generation of contemporary worthies is gone; the crowd of the unsignalized great and good disappears; and the leaders in war as well as council, are seen, in Fancy's eye, to take their stations on the mount of Remembrance.
They come from the embattled cliffs of Abraham; they start from the heaving sods of Bunker's Hill; they gather from the blazing lines of Saratoga and Yorktown, from the blood-dyed waters of the Brandywine, from the dreary snows of Valley Forge, and all the hard-fought fields of the war. With all their wounds and all their honours, they rise and plead with us, for their brethren who survive; and bid us, if indeed we cherish the memory of those who bled in our cause, to show our gratitude, not by sounding words, but by stretching out the strong arm of the country's prosperity, to help the veteran survivors gently down to their graves.
STANZAS ADDRESSED TO THE GREEKS.
On, on, to the just and glorious strife!
With your swords your freedom shielding :
But die, at least, unyielding.
On to the strife! for 'twere far more meet
To sink with the foes who bay you,
And smile on the swords that slay you.
Shall the pagan slaves be masters, then,
Of the land which your fathers gave you?
When your own good swords may save you?
No! let him feel that their arms are strong,
That their courage will fail them never,-
And bury past shame forever.
Let him know there are hearts, however bowed
By the chains which he threw around them,
And cry'wo!' to the slaves who bound them.
Let him learn how weak is a tyrant's might,
Against liberty's sword contending;
Their freedom and land defending.
Then on! then on to the glorious strife!
With your swords your country shielding,
But die, at least, unyielding.
Strike ! for the sires who left you free!
Strike! for their sakes who bore you !
And the Heaven you worship o'er you!
EXTRACT FROM A SPEECH OF JOHN RANDOLPH IN THE
CONVENTION OF VIRGINIA, IN 1829–1830. Sir, I see no wisdom in making this provision for future changes. You must give Governments time to operate on the People, and give the People time to become gradually assimilated to their Institutions. Almost any thing is better than this state of perpetual uncertainty. A people may have the best form of government that the wit of man ever devised; and yet, from its uncertainty alone, may, in effect, live under the worst Government in the world. Sir, how often must I repeat, that change is not reform. I am willing that this new Constitution shall stand as long as it is possible for it to stand, and that, believe me, is a very short time. Sir, it is vain to deny it. They may say what they please about the old Constitution—the defect is not there. It is not in the form of the old edifice, neither in the design nor the elevation : it is in the material—it is in the People of Virginia. To my knowledge that people are changed from what they have been. The 400 men who went out to David were in debt. The partisans of Cæsar were in debt. The fellow-labourers of Catiline were in debt. And I defy
you to show me a desperately indebted people any where who can bear a regular sober government. I throw the challenge to all who hear me. I say that the character of the good old Virginia Planter—the man who owned from five to twenty slaves, or less, who lived by hard work, and who paid his debts, is passed away. A new order of things is come. The period has arrived of living by one's wits—of living by contracting debts that one cannot payand above all, of living by office-hunting.
Sir, what do we see? Bankrupts-branded bankrupts giving great dinners-sending their children to the most expensive schools-giving grand parties—and just as well received as any body in society. I say, that in such a state of things the old Constitution was too good for them; they could not bear it. No, Sir—they could not bear a freehold suffrage and a property representation.
I have always endeavoured to do the people justicebut I will not flatter them-I will not pander to their appetite for change. I will do nothing to provide for change. I will not agree to any rule of future apportionment, or to any provision for future changes called amendments to the Constitution. They who love change-who delight in public confusion-who wish to feed the cauldron, and make it bubble-may vote if they please for future changes. But by what spell—by what formula are you going to bind the people to all future time? You may make what entries upon parchment you please. Give me a Constitution that will last for half a century-that is all I wish for. No Constitution that you can make will last the one half of half a century.
Sir, I will stake any thing short of my salvation, that those who are malcontent now, will be more malcontent three years hence than they are at this day. I have no favour for this Constitution.- I shall vote against its adoption, and I shall advise all the people of my district to set their faces—aye—and their shoulders against it. But if we are to have it-let us not have it with its death-warrant in its very face, with the Sardonic grin of death upon its countenance.
SECOND EXTRACT FROM THE SAME AUTHOR. MR CHAIRMAN, I must notice a topic of the gravest character which has been several times brought to our view, by
eastern members, in the course of debate. I mean a separation of the state—at one time gently insinuated-at another wrapped up in beautiful rhetorical language, and finally expressed in what has been emphatically called plain old English. I am not disposed, Sir, to regard such menaces, because I am aware of the extremities of intellectual warfare, and can estimate the effervescence of momentary excitement. They would not be impressed upon my mind, but for a corresponding sentiment which I have reason to believe prevails amongst the western people. I do not say that if slave representation should be forced upon them, they will raise the standard of rebellion, or in any wise resist the constituted authorities. Far from it. But within the pale of the constitution and laws, they will carry their opposition to the utmost limit; and the members of this Committee can estimate the feelings of hostility by which it will be accompanied. The final result will be a separation of the state. No one can doubt that if such an event should be perseveringly, though peaceably sought, by a large portion of the state, it would be ultimately conceded.
I beg, Sir, to be distinctly understood. There is no one in this Committee to whom the idea of such a separation is more abhorrent than myself. I believe there is no man here who wishes separation for its own sake, or who could contemplate it for a moment, except as a refuge from greater evils.
We should look forward to such a calamity, only to deprecate and avoid it. Surely, it will not,-must not be. Separate Virginia! Shall she be shorn of her strength, her influence, and her glory? Shall her voice of command, of persuasion, and reproof, be no longer heard in the national councils ? Shall she no more be looked up to as the guide of the strong, the guardian of the weak, and the protector of the oppressed? Break in twain the most precious jewel, and the separated parts are comparatively worthless. Divide Virginia, and both the East and the West will sink into insignificance, neglect and contempt.
I would to God, that for this single occasion only, I could utter my feelings in
'Thoughts that breathe, and words that burn.' I would kindle a flame, which should find an altar in every heart—which should burn to ashes the prejudices of the hour, and the petty interests of the day,—and throw upon our path of duty a strong and steady light, directing us forward to the permanent welfare, safety, and honour of Virginia.
SPEECH OF CATILINE IN THE ROMAN SENATE, ON HEARING HIS SENTENCE OF BANISHMENT.
Croly. BANISHED from Rome! what's banished, but set free From daily contact of the things I loathe? • Tried and convicted traitor !'—Who says this? Who'll prove it, at his peril, on my head ? Banished ?-I thank you for 't. It breaks my chain! I held some slack allegiance till this hourBut now my sword's my own. Smile on, my lords; I scorn to count what feelings, withered hopes, Strong provocations, bitter, burning wrongs, I have within my heart's hot cells shut up, To leave you in your lazy dignities. But here I stand and scoff you :-here I fling Hatred and full defiance in your face. Your Consul's merciful. For this all thanks. He dares not touch a hair of Cataline. - Traitor!' I go—but I return. This—trial ! Here I devote your senate! I've had wrongs, To stir a fever in the blood of age, Or make the infant's sinew strong as steel. This day's the birth of sorrows !—This hour's work Will breed proscriptions.—Look to your hearths, my lords, For there henceforth shall sit, for household gods, Shapes hot from Tartarus!-all shames and crimes ;Wan Treachery, with his thirsty dagger drawn; Suspicion, poisoning his brother's cup; Naked Rebellion, with the torch and axe, Making his wild sport of your blazing thrones; Till Anarchy comes down on you like night, And Massacre seals Rome's eternal grave.
WILLIAM TELL IN THE FIELD OF GRUTLI.
Knowles. Tell. YE crags and peaks, I'm with you once again ! I hold to you the hands you first beheld, To show they still are free. Methinks I hear