« PreviousContinue »
shall not detain you by pursuing this subject through the various topics which it so abundantly offers. I should be proud to think my name might be handed down to posterity in the same roll with these disinterested patriots who have so successfully resisted the enemies of their country-successfully I trust it will be-in all events I have 66 my exceeding great reward”I shall bear in my heart the consciousness of having done my duty, and in the hour of death I shall not be haunted by the reflection of having basely sold or meanly abandoned the liberties of my native land. Can every man who gives his vote on the other side this night lay his hand upon his heart, and make the same declaration? I hope so-it will be well for his own peacethe indignation and abhorrence of his countrymen will not accompany him through life, and the curses of his children will not follow him to the grave.
Extract from WIRT'S Eulogy on the death of Adams and
The scenes which have been lately passing in our country, and of which this meeting is a continuance, are full of moral instruction. They hold up to the world a lesson of wisdom by which all may profit, if Heaven shall grant them the discretion to turn it to its use. The spectacle, in all its parts, has, indeed, been most solemn and impressive; and, though the first impulse be now past, the time has not yet come, and never will it come, when we can contemplate it, without renewed emotion.
In the structure of their characters; in the course of their action; in the striking coincidences which marked their high career; in the lives and in the deaths of the illustrious men, whose virtues and services we have met to commemorateand in that voice of admiration and gratitude which has since burst, with one accord, from the twelve millions of freemen who people these States, there is a moral sublimity which overwhelms the mind, and hushes all its powers into silent amazement !
The European, who should have heard the sound without apprehending the cause, would be apt to inquire, "What is the "meaning of all this? what had these men done to elicit this "unanimous and splendid acclamation? Why has the whole "American nation risen up, as one man, to do them honour, "and offer to them this enthusiastic homage of the heart? Were
"they mighty warriors, and was the peal that we have heard, "the shout of victory? Were they great commanders, returning from their distant conquests, surrounded with the spoils "of war, and was this the sound of their triumphal procession? "Were they covered with martial glory in any form, and was "this the noisy wave of the multitude rolling back at their "approach?" Nothing of all this: No; they were peaceful and aged patriots, who, having served their country together, through their long and useful lives, had now sunk together to the tomb. They had not fought battles; but they had formed and moved the great machinery of which battles were only a small, and, comparatively, trivial consequence. They had not commanded armies; but they had commanded the master springs of the nation, on which all its great political, as well as military movements depended. By the wisdom and energy of their counsels, and by the potent mastery of their spirits, they had contributed pre-eminently to produce a mighty Revolution, which has changed the aspect of the world. A Revolution which, in one-half of that world, has already restored man to his long lost liberty;" and government to its only legitimate object, the happiness of the People: and, on the other hemisphere, has thrown a light so strong, that even the darkness of despotism is beginning to recede. Compared with the solid glory of an achievement like this, what are battles, and what the pomp of war, but the poor and fleeting pageants of a theatre? What were the selfish and petty strides of Alexander, to conquer a little section of a savage world, compared with this generous, this magnificent advance towards the emancipation of the entire world!
And this, be it remembered, has been the fruit of intellectual exertion! the triumph of mind! What a proud testimony does it bear to the character of our nation, that they are able to make a proper estimate of services like these! That while, in other countries, the senseless mob fall down in stupid admiration, before the bloody wheels of the conqueror-even of the conqueror by accident-in this, our People rise, with one accord, to pay their homage to intellect and virtue! What a cheering pledge does it give of the stability of our institutions, that while abroad, the yet benighted multitude are prostrating themselves before the idols which their own hands have fashioned into Kings, here, in this land of the free, our people are every where starting up, with one impulse, to follow with their acclamations the ascending spirits of the great Fathers of the Republic! This is a spectacle of which we may be permitted to be proud. It honours our country no less than the illustrious dead.* And
could these great patriots speak to us from the tomb, they would tell us that they have more pleasure in the testimony which these honours bear to the character ef their country, than in that which they bear to their individual services. They now see as they were seen, while in the body, and know the nature of the feeling from which these honours flow. It is love for love. It is the gratitude of an enlightened nation to the noblest order of benefactors. It is the only glory worth the aspiration of a generous spirit. Who would not prefer this living tomb in the hearts of his countrymen, to the proudest mausoleum that the genius of sculpture could erect!
Jefferson and Adams were great men by nature. Not great and eccentric minds "shot madly from their spheres" to affright the world and scatter pestilence in their course; but minds whose strong and steady light, restrained within their proper orbits by the happy poise of their characters, came to cheer and to gladden a world that had been buried for ages in political night. They were heaven-called avengers of degraded man. They came to lift him to the station for which God had formed him, and to put to flight those idiot superstitions with which tyrants had contrived to inthrall his reason and his liberty. And that Being, who had sent them upon this mission, had fitted them, pre-eminently, for his glorious work. He filled their hearts with a love of country which burned strong within them, even in death. He gave them a power of understanding which no sophistry could baffle, no art elude; and a moral heroism which no dangers could appal. Careless of themselves, reckless of all personal consequences, trampling under foot that petty ambition of office and honour, which constitutes the master-passion of little minds, they bent all their mighty powers to the task for which they had been delegatedthe freedom of their beloved country, and the restoration of fallen man. They felt that they were Apostles of human liberty ; and well did they fulfil their high commission. They rested not until they had accomplished their work at home, and given such an impulse to the great ocean of mind, that they saw the waves rolling on the farthest shore, before they were called to their reward. And then left the world, hand in hand, exulting, as they rose, in the success of their labours.
A Character of NAPOLEON Buonaparte.
He is fallen! We may now pause before that splendid prodigy, which towered amongst us like some ancient ruin, whose
frown terrified the glance its magnificence attracted. Grand, gloomy, and peculiar, he sat upon the throne a sceptred hermit, wrapt in the solitude of his own originality. A mind bold, independent, and decisive—a will, despotic in its dictates-an energy that distanced expedition, and a conscience pliable to every touch of interest, marked the outline of this extraordinary character-the most extraordinary, perhaps, that in the annals of this world, ever rose, or reigned, or fell. Flung into life, in the midst of a revolution, that quickened every energy of a people who acknowledged no superior, he commenced his course, a stranger by birth and a scholar by charity! With no friend but his sword, and no fortune but his talents, he rushed in the list where rank, and wealth, and genius had arrayed themselves, and competition fled from him as from the glance of destiny. He knew no motive but interest-he acknowledg ed no criterion but success-he worshipped no God but ambition, and with an eastern devotion he knelt at the shrine of his idolatry. Subsidiary to this, there was no creed that he did not profess, there was no opinion that he did not promulgate: in the hope of a dynasty, he upheld the crescent; for the sake of a divorce, he bowed before the cross: the orphan of St. Louis, he became the adopted child of the Republic: and with a parricidal ingratitude, on the ruins both of the throne and tribune, he reared the throne of his despotism. A professed Catholic, he imprisoned the Pope; a pretended patriot, he impoverished the country; and in the name of Brutus he grasped without remorse, and wore without shame, the diadem of the Cæsars! Through this pantomime of policy, fortune played the clown to his caprices. At his touch, crowns crumbled, beggars reigned, systems vanished, the wildest theories took the colour of his whim, and all that was venerable, and all that was novel, changed places with the rapidity of a drama. Even apparent defeat assumed the appearance of victory-his flight from Egypt confirmed his destiny-ruin itself only elevated him to empire. But if his fortune was great, his genius was transcendent; decision flashed upon his councils; and it was the same to decide and to perform. To inferior intellects, his com bination appeared perfectly impossible, his plans perfectly im practicable; but, in his hands, simplicity marked their developement, and success vindicated their adoption. His person partook the character of his mind-if the one never yielded in the cabinet, the other never bent in the field.-Nature had no obstacle that he did not surmount-space no opposition that he did not spurn; and whether amid Alpine rocks, Arabian
sands, or Polar snows, he seemed proof against peril, and empowered with ubiquity! The whole continent trembled at beholding the audacity of his designs, and the miracle of their execution. Scepticism bowed to the prodigies of his performance; romance assumed the air of history; nor was there aught too incredible for belief, or too fanciful for expectation, when the world saw a sabaltern of Corsica waving his imperial flag over her most ancient capitals. All the visions of antiquity became common places in his contemplation; Kings were his people-nations were his outposts; and he disposed of courts, and crowns, and camps, and churches, and cabinets, as if they were titular dignitaries of the chess board! Amid all these changes he stood immutable as adamant.
It mattered little whether in the field or in the drawing room with the mob or the levee-wearing the jacobin bonnet or the iron crown-banishing a Braganza, or espousing a Hapsburgh-dictating peace on a raft to the Czar of Russia, or contemplating defeat at the gallows of Leipsic-he was still the same military despot! Cradled in the camp, he was to the last hour the darling of the army; and whether in the camp or in the cabinet, he never forsook a friend or forgot a favour, Of all his soldiers, not one abandoned him, till affection was useless, and their first stipulation was for the safety of their favourite. They knew well that if he was lavish of them, he was prodigal of himself; and that if he exposed them to peril, he repaid them with plunder. For the soldier, he subsidized every people; to the people he made even pride pay tribute. The victorious veteran glittered with his gains; and the capital, gorgeous with the spoils of art, became the miniature metropolis of the universe.
In this wonderful combination, his affectations of literature must not be omitted. The gaoler of the press, he affected the patronage of letters-the proscriber of books, he encouraged philosophy-the persecutor of authors and the murderer of printers, he yet pretended to the protection of learning! the assassin of Palm, the silencer of De Stael, and the denouncer of Kotzebue, he was the friend of David, the benefactor of De Lille, and sent his academic prize to the philosopher of England. Such a medley of contradictions, and at the same time such an individual consistency, were never united in the same character. A Royalist-a Republican and an Emperor-a Mahometan-a Catholic and a patron of the Synagogue-a Subaltern and a Sovereign-a Traitor and a Tyrant-a Christian and an Infidel-he was, through all his vicissitudes, the