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REPLY TO HAYNE; IN THE UNITED STATES SENATE,
JANUARY 26, 1830.
MR. PRESIDENT, – When the mariner has been tossed for many days in thick weather, and on an unknown sea, he naturally avails himself of the first pause in the storm, the earliest glance of the sun, to take his latitude, and ascertain how far the elements have driven him from his 5 true course. Let us imitate this prudence, and before we float farther on the waves of this debate, refer to the point from which we departed, that we may at least be able to conjecture where we now are. I ask for the reading of the resolution before the Senate.
10 The Secretary read the resolution, as follows:
“ Resolved, That the Committee on Public Lands be instructed
to inquire and report the quantity of public lands remaining
We have thus heard, Sir, what the resolution is which is actually before us for consideration; and it will readily occur to every one that it is almost the only subject 25 about which something has not been said in the speech, running through two days, by which the Senate has been entertained by the gentleman from South Carolina. Every topic in the wide range of our public affairs, 5 whether past or present - everything, general or local, whether belonging to national politics or party politics
seems to have attracted more or less of the honorable member's attention, save only the resolution before the
Senate. He has spoken of everything but the public 10 lands; they have escaped his notice. To that subject,
in all his excursions, he has not paid even the cold respect of a passing glance.
When this debate, Sir, was to be resumed on Thursday morning, it so happened that it would have been 15 convenient for me to be elsewhere. The honorable mem
ber, however, did not incline to put off the discussion to another day. He had a shot, he said, to return, and he wished to discharge it. That shot, Sir, which he thus
kindly informed us was coming, that we might stand out 20 of the way, or prepare ourselves to fall by it and die
with decency, has now been received. Under all advantages, and with expectation awakened by the tone which preceded it, it has been discharged, and has spent its
force. It may become me to say no more of its effect, 25 than that, if nobody is found, after all, either killed or
wounded, it is not the first time in the history of human • affairs that the vigor and success of the war have not quite come up to the lofty and sounding phrase of the manifesto.
The gentleman, Sir, in declining to postpone the debate, told the Senate, with the emphasis of his hand upon his heart, that there was something rankling here, which he wished to relieve.
[Mr. Hayne rose, and disclaimed having used the word rank35 ling.]
It would not, Mr. President, be safe for the honorable member to appeal to those around him upon
question whether he did, in fact, make use of that word. But he may have been unconscious of it. At any rate, it is enough that he disclaims it. But still, with or with- 5 out the use of that particular word, he had yet something here, he said, of which he wished to rid himself by an immediate reply. In this respect, Sir, I have a great advantage over the honorable gentleman. There is nothing here, Sir, which gives me the slightest uneasiness; 10 neither fear, nor anger, nor that which is sometimes more troublesome than either, the consciousness of having been in the wrong. There is nothing either originating here, or now received here by the gentleman's shot. Nothing originating here, for I had not the slightest feeling of 15 unkindness towards the honorable member. sages, it is true, had occurred since our acquaintance in this body which I could have wished might have been otherwise; but I had used philosophy, and forgotten them. I paid the honorable member the attention of listening 20 with respect to his first speech ; and when he sat down, though surprised, and I must even say astonished, at some of his opinions, nothing was farther from my intention than to commence any personal warfare. Through the whole of the few remarks I made in answer, I avoided, 25 studiously and carefully, everything which I thought possible to be construed into disrespect. And, Sir, while there is thus nothing originating here which I have wished at any time, or now wish, to discharge, I must repeat, also, that nothing has been received here which 30 rankles, or in any way gives me annoyance. I will not accuse the honorable member of violating the rules of civilized war — I will not say that he poisoned his arrows. But whether his shafts were, or were not, dipped in that which would have caused rankling, if they had reached 35 their destination, there was not, as it happened, quite strength enough in the bow to bring them to their mark. If he wishes now to gather up those shafts, he must look for them elsewhere; they will not be found fixed and 5 quivering in the object at which they were aimed.
The honorable member complained that I had slept on his speech. · I must have slept on it, or not slept at all. The moment the honorable member sat down, his
friend from Missouri rose, and, with much honeyed com10 mendation of the speech, suggested that the impressions which it had produced were too charming and delightful to be disturbed by other sentiments or other sounds, and proposed that the Senate should adjourn. Would it have been quite amiable in me, Sir, to interrupt this excellent 15 good feeling ? Must I not have been absolutely mali
cious, if I could have thrust myself forward to destroy sensations thus pleasing? Was it not much better and kinder, both to sleep upon them myself, and to allow
others also the pleasure of sleeping upon them? But 20 if it be meant, by sleeping upon his speech, that I took
time to prepare a reply to it, it is quite a mistake. Owing to other engagements I could not employ even the interval between the adjournment of the Senate and its meet
ing the next morning in attention to the subject of this 25 debate. Nevertheless, Sir, the mere matter of fact is
undoubtedly true. I did sleep on the gentleman's speech, and slept soundly. And I slept equally well on his speech of yesterday, to which I am now replying. It is quite
possible that in this respect, also, I possess some advan30 tage over the honorable member, attributable, doubtless,
to a cooler temperament on my part; for, in truth, I slept upon his speeches remarkably well.
But the gentleman inquires why he was made the object of such a reply? Why was he singled out? If an 35 attack has been made on the East, he, he assures us, did
not begin it; it was made by the gentleman from Missouri. Sir, I answered the gentleman's speech because I happened to hear it; and because, also, I chose to give an answer to that speech, which, if unanswered, I thought most likely to produce injurious impressions. I did not 5 stop to inquire who was the original drawer of the bill. I found a responsible indorser before me, and it was my purpose to hold him liable, and to bring him to his just responsibility without delay. But, Sir, this interrogatory of the honorable member was only introductory to another. 10 He proceeded to ask me whether I had turned upon him, in this debate, from the consciousness that I should find an overmatch, if I ventured on a contest with his friend from Missouri. If, Sir, the honorable member, modestiæ gratia, had chosen thus to defer to his friend, and to pay 15 him a compliment, without intentional disparagement to others, it would have been quite according to the friendly courtesies of debate, and not at all ungrateful to my own feelings. I am not one of those, Sir, who esteem any tribute of regard, whether light and occasional, or more 20 serious and deliberate, which may be bestowed on others, as so much unjustly withholden from themselves. But the tone and manner of the gentleman's question forbid me thus to interpret it. I am not at liberty to consider it as nothing more than a civility to his friend. It had 25 an air of taunt and disparagement, something of the loftiness of asserted superiority, which does not allow me to pass it over without notice. It was put as a question for me to answer, and so put as if it were difficult for me to answer, whether I deemed the member from Mis- 30 souri an overmatch for myself in debate here. It seems to me, Sir, that this is extraordinary language, and an extraordinary tone, for the discussions of this body.
Matches and overmatches ! Those terms are more applicable elsewhere than here, and fitter for other assem- 35