Page images

Ordain'd to light, with intellectual day,
The mazy wheels of Nature as they play,
Or, warm with Fancy's energy, to glow,
And rival all but Shakspeare's name below!

Extract from WHEATON's Address before the New-York

Nothing seems to be wanting to promote the progress of science and letters among us, but public sympathy, and a more active encouragement to every exertion of our literary men. In this they are to find both their reward and the incentive to fresh endeavours. This encouragement is especially due to every attempt to enlarge the means of instruction; to draw science down from lofty abstractions to practical use; to bring it home to men's business and bosoms-to diffuse a general taste for the liberal arts and letters throughout society. I will not speak to you of the agreeable relaxation to be found in these pursuits from the oppressive toils and cares of business, and the still more oppressive toils and cares of fashionable dissipation; of their talismanic power to avert the malignant influence of that demon who lurks in the train of excessive civilization and refinement, and poisons the fountains of pleasure in polished life. I will not remind you of the consolation afforded by the cultivation of letters in adversity-of the balm it ministers to the soul wounded in its dearest affections-of the pure and elevated enjoyments it bestows. I will not speak to you of these, because I know you will be influenced by other more disinterested and more patriotic motives to countenance with your protection and patronage the enterprise in which we are engaged. We believe that it is closely connected with the happiness of society, and with the permanent prosperity and true glory of our common country. We feel that it appeals powerfully to the wise and the good; to those generous minds who do not despair of the Commonwealth; to those who would labour for a distant posterity with the certainty that their toils will not be unrequited. We inhabit a land of vast extent, possessing every variety of soil and climate, and abounding with natural scenery, the most picturesque, romantic and grand. The increase of our population has, as yet, found little or no resistance in the want of the means of subsistence. Its tide is now swelling and overflowing in every direction; and perhaps before some of those who are now present shall see death, it will equal, it not surpass, that of the greatest empires of the old world

[merged small][ocr errors]

But this rapid increase of numbers will not be attended with a correspondent increase of happiness, unless the region of intellect is cultivated as well as that which yields a supply to our physical wants. Man has higher wants and capacities. His soul is filled with aspirations after knowledge and fame; with an insatiable thirst of happiness, which seeks for its gratification, not in the enjoyments of sense, but in the cultivation of the powers of his intellectual and moral nature. The sentiment of patriotism is not merely associated with the clods of the valley which gave us birth. It is complicated of the recollections of the great men our country has produced; of their heroic and beneficent actions; of affection for its institutions, its manners, its fame in arts and in arms. This sentiment must be cherished and invigorated by associating with it an enlightened love of liberty-a taste for knowledge, and an ardent enthusiasm for those arts which lend to human existence its most refined enjoyments. Could the genius of our country reveal to our astonished view the future glories which await the progress of confederated America; could he show us the countless millions who will swarm in the wide-spread valleys of the west, tasting of happiness, and sharing the blessings of equal laws; could he unrol the pages of her history, and permit us to see the fierce struggles of her factions- the rapid mutations of her empire the bloody fields of her triumphs and her disasters: could he croud these awful visions upon our souls, we should then see that all the prosperity that awaits us depends on the supremacy of mind-on the cultivation of the intellect-on the diffusion of knowledge and the arts; not merely to the chosen few, but to that immense multitude who are at once invested with the privileges of Freedom and the prerogatives of Power.

Extract from WEBSTER's Speech on laying the Foundation of the Bunker Hill Monument.

The society, whose organ I am, was formed for the purpose of rearing some honourable and durable monument to the memory of the early friends of American Independence. They have thought, that for this object no time could be more propitious, than the present prosperous and peaceful period; that no place could claim preference over this memorable spot; and that no day could be more auspicious to the undertaking, than the anniversary of the battle which was here fought. The foundation of that monument we have now laid. With solemnities suited to the occasion, with prayers to Almighty God for his

blessing, and in the midst of this cloud of witnesses, we have begun the work. We trust it will be prosecuted; and that springing from a broad foundation, rising high in massive solidity and unadorned grandeur, it may remain, as long as Heaven permits the works of man to last, a fit emblem, both of the events in memory of which it is raised, and of the gratitude of those who have reared it.

We know, indeed, that the record of illustrious actions is most safely deposited in the universal remembrance of mankind. We know, that if we could cause this structure to ascend, not only till it reached the skies, but till it pierced them, its broad surfaces could still contain but part of that, which, in an age of knowledge, hath already been spread over the earth, and which history charges itself with making known to all future times. We know, that no inscription or entablatures less broad than the earth itself, can carry information of the events we commemorate, where it has not already gone ; and that no structure, which shall not outlive the duration of letters and knowledge among men, can prolong the memorial. But our object is, by this édifice to show our own deep sense of the value and importance of the achievements of our ancestors; and, by presenting this work of gratitude to the eye, to keep alive similar sentiments, and to foster a constant regard for the principles of the Revolution. Human beings are composed not of reason only, but of imagination also, and sentiment; and that is neither wasted nor misapplied which is ap propriated to the purpose of giving right direction to sentiments, and opening proper springs of feeling in the heart.Let it not be supposed that our object is to perpetuate national hostility, or even to cherish a mere military spirit. It is higher, purer, nobler. We consecrate our work to the spirit of national independence, and we wish that the light of peace may rest upon it forever. We rear a memorial of our conviction of that unmeasured benefit, which has been conferred on our own land, and of the happy influences, which have been produced, by the same events, on the general interests of mankind. We come, as Americans, to mark a spot, which must forever be dear to us and our posterity. We wish, that whosoever, in all coming time, shall turn his eye hither, may behold that the place is not undistinguished, where the first great battle of the Revolution was fought. We wish, that this structure may proclaim the magnitude and importance of that event, to every class and every age. We wish, that infancy may learn the purpose of its erection from maternal lips, and that weary and withered age may behold it, and be solaced by the recollections

which it suggests. We wish, that labour may look up here, and be proud, in the midst of its toil. We wish, that, in those days of disaster, which, as they come on all nations, must be expected to come on us also, desponding patriotism may turn its eyes hitherward, and be assured that the foundations of our national power still stand strong. We wish, that this column, rising towards heaven among the pointed spires of so many temples dedicated to God, may contribute also to produce, in all minds, a pious feeling of dependence and gratitude. We wish, finally, that the last object on the sight of him who leaves his native shore, and the first to gladden his who revisits it, may be something which shall remind him of the liberty and the glory of his country. Let it rise, till it meet the sun in his coming; let the earliest light of the morning gild it, and parting day linger and play on its summit.

Extract from BEMAN'S Address before the Graduates of Middlebury.

Far be it from me to cherish, in any shape, a spirit of national prejudice, or to excite in others a disgusting national vanity. But when I reflect upon the part which this country is probably to act in the renovation of the world, I rejoice that I am a citizen of this great Republic. This Western continent has, at different periods, been the subject of every species of trans-atlantic abuse. In former days, some of the naturalists of Europe have told us, that every thing here was constructed upon a small scale. The frowns of nature were represented as investing the whole hemisphere we inhabit. It has been asserted, that the eternal storms, which are said to beat upon the brow of our mountains, and to roll the tide of desolation at their bases the hurricanes which sweep our vales, and the volcanic fires which issue from a thousand flaming craters-the thunderbolts which perpetually descend from heaven, and the earthquakes, whose trepidations are felt to the very centre of our globe, have superinduced a degeneracy through all the productions of nature. Men have been frightened into intellectual dwarfs, and the beasts of the forest have not attained more than half their ordinary growth!-While some of the lines and touches of this picture have been blotted out by the reversing hand of time, others have been added, which have, in some respects, carried the conceit still farther. In later days, and, in some instances, even down to the present period, it has been. published and republished from the enlightened presses of the

old world, that so strong is the tendency to deterioration on this, continent, that the descendants of European ancestors, are far inferior to the original stock from which they sprang. But inferior in what? In national spirit, and patriotic achievement? Let the revolutionary conflict-the opening scenes at Boston, and the catastrophe at Yorktown-furnish the reply. Let Bennington and Saratoga, support their respective claims. Inferior in enterprise? Let the sail that whitens every ocean, and the commercial spirit that braves every element, and visits every bustling mart, refute the unfounded aspersion.-Inferior in deeds of zeal and valour for the church? Let our missionaries in the bosom of our own forest, in the distant regions of the East, and on the islands of the great Pacific, answer the question. Inferior in science, and letters, and the arts? It is true, our nation is young; but we may challenge the world to furnish a national maturity which, in these respects, will compare with ours.

The character and institutions of this country, have already produced a deep impression upon the world we inhabit. What but our example has stricken the chains of despotism from the provinces of South America-giving, by a single impulse, freedom to half a hemisphere? A Washington here, has created a Bolivar there. The flag of independence which has long waved from the summit of our Alleghany, has now been answered by a corresponding signal from the heights of the Andes. And the same spirit, too, that came across the Atlantic wave with the Pilgrims, and made the rock of Plymouth the corner-stone of freedom and of this Republic, is travelling back to the East. It has already carried its influence into the cabinets of princes and it is, at this moment, sung by the Grecian bard, and emulated by the Grecian hero.

Extract from the Speech of PATRICK HENRY, before the Le gislature of Virginia.

He had but one lamp by which his feet were guided; and that was the lamp of experience. He knew of no way of judging of the future but by the past. And judging by the past, he wished to know what there had been in the conduct of the British ministry for the last ten years, to justify those hopes with which gentlemen had been pleased to solace themselves and the house? Is it that insidious smile with which our petition has been lately received? Trust it not, sir; it will prove a enare to your feet. Suffer not yourselves to be betrayed with

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »