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It is itself the orator of this occasion. It is not from my lip: it could not be from any human lips, that that strain of ele quence is this day to flow most competent to move and excite the vast multitudes around me. The powerful speaker stands motionless before us. It is a plain shaft. It bears no inscription, fronting to the rising sun, from which the future antiquary shall wipe the dust. Nor does the rising sun cause tones of music to issue from its summit. But at the rising of the sun, and at the setting of the sun; in the blaze of noonday, and beneath the milder effulgence of lunar light; it looks, it speaks, it acts, to the full comprehension of every American mind, and the awakening of glowing enthusiasm in every American heart. . .
To-day it speaks to us. Its future auditories will be the suic cessive generations of men, as they rise up before it and gather around it. Its speech will be of patriotism and courage; of civil and religious liberty; of free government; of t'je moral improvement and elevation of mankind; and of the immortal memory of those, who, with heroic devotion, have sacrificed their lives foi their country. .
Banners and badges, processions and flags, announce to us, that amidst this uncounted throng are thousands of natives of New England now residents in other States. Welcome, ye kin dred names, with kindred blood! From the broad savannas of the South, from the newer regions of the West, from amidst the hundreds of thousands of men of Eastern origin who cultivate the rich valley of the Genesee, or live along the chain of the lakes, from the mountains of Pennsylvanii, and from the thronged cities of the coast, welcome, welcome! Wherever else you may be strangers, here you are all at home. You assemble at this shrine of liberty, near the family altars at which your earliest devotions were paid to Heaven; near to the temples of worship first entered by you, and near to the schools and colleges in which your education was received. You come hither with a glorious ancestry of liberty. You bring names which are on the rolls of Lexington, Concord, and Bunker Hill. You come, some of you, once inore to be embraced by an aged Revolutionary father, or to receive another, perhaps a last, blessing, bestowed in love and tears, by a mother, yet surviving to witness and to enjoy your Grosperity and happiness.
Few topics are more inviting, or more fit for philosophical dis cussion, than the influence of the New World upon the Old. America has furnished to the world the character of Washington. And if our American institutions had done nothing else, that alone would have entitled them to the respect of mankind.
Washington ! "First in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen!” Washington is all our own! The enthusiastic veneration and regard in which the people of the United States hold him prove them to be worthy of such a countrymali; while his reputation abroad reflects the highest honor on his country. I would cheerfully put the question to-day to the intelligence of Europe and the world, what character of the century, upon the whole, stands out in the relief of history, most pure, most respectable, most sublime; and I doubt not, that, by a suffrage approaching to unanimity, the answer would be Washington!
The structure now standing before us, by its upriglıtness. its solidity, its durability, is no unfit emblem of his character. His public virtues and public principles were as firm as the earth on which it stands; his personal motives, as pure as the serene heaven in which its summit is lost. But, indeed, though a fit, it is an inadequate emblem. Towering high above the column which our hands have builded, beheld, not by the inhabitanis of il single city or single State, but by all the families of man, ascends the colossal grandeur of the character and life of Washington. In all the constituents of the one, in all the acts of the nther, in all its titles to immortal love, admiration, and
renown, it is an Ainerican production. It is the embodiment and vindication of our Transatlantic liberty.
Born upon our soil, of parents also born upon it; never for a moment having had sight of the Old World ; instructed, according to the modes of his time, only in the spare, plain, but wholebome elementary knowledge which our institutions provide for the children of the people; growing up beneath and penetrateri by the genuine influences of American society; living from infancy to manhood and age amidst our expanding, but not luxurious civilization; partaking in our great destiny of labor, our long contest with unreclaimed nature and uncivilized man, our agony of glory, the war of Independence, our great victory of peace, the formation of the Union, and the establishment of the Constitution; he is all, all our own! Washington is ours! That growded and glorious life,
“Where multitudes of virtues passed along,
For greater multitudes that were to come”that life was the life of an American citizen.
I claim him for America. In all the perils, in every dark ened moment of the state, in the midst of the reproaches of ene mies and the misgiving of friends, I turn to that transcendent name for courage and for consolation. To him who denies or doubts whether our fervid liberty can be combined with law, with order, with the security of property, with the pursuits and advancement of happiness; to him who denies that our forms of government are capable of producing exaltation of soul and the passion of true glory; to him who denies that we have contributed anything to the stock of great lessons and great examples ;to all these I reply by pointing to Washington!
Let us remember the trust, the sacred trust, attaching to the rich inheritance we have received from our fathers. Let us feel our personal responsibility, to the full extent of our power and influence, for the preservation of the principles of civil and religious liberty. And let us remember that it is only religion, and morals, and knowledge that can make men respectable and happy under any form of government. . . . And when both we and our children shall have been consigned to the house appointed for all living, may love of country and pride of country glow with equal fervor among those to whom our names and our blood shall have descended! And then, when honored and decrepit age shall lean against the base of this monument, and troops of ingenuous youth shall be gathered round it, and when the one shall speak to the other of its objects, the purposes of its construction, and the great and glorious events with which it is connected, there shall rise from every youthful breast the ejaculation, “Thank God, I–I also—AM AN AMERICAN!"
As a notable instance of the moral element which vitalizes many of Webster's legal efforts, we adduce the following passage from his speech to the jury in the memorable case of John F. Knapp. Of this speech Everett remarks: "The record of the causes célèbres of no country or age will
furnish either a more thrilling narrative, or a forensic effort of greater ability. A passage on the power of conscience will arrest the attention of the reader. There is nothing in the language superior to it." This passage we present:
Against the prisoner at the bar, as an individual, I cannot have the slightest prejudice. I would not do him the smallest injury or injustice. But I do not affect to be indifferent to the discovery and the punishment of this deep guilt. I cheerfully share in the opprobrium, how great soever it may be, which is cast on those who feel and manifest an anxious concern that ali who had a part in planning, or a hand in executing, this deed of midnight assassination, may be brought to answer for their enormous crime at the bar of public justice.
Gentlemen, it is a most extraordinary case. In some respects it was hardly a precedent anywhere; certainly none in our New Engiund history. This bloody drama exhibited no suddenly-excited, ungovernable rage. The actors in it were not surprised by any lion-like temptation springing upon their virtue, and overcoming it before resistance could begin. Nor did they do the deed to glut savage vengeance, or satiate long-settled and deadly hate. It was a cool, calculating, money-making murder It was all “hire and salary, not revenge.” It was the weighing of money against life; the counting out of so many pieces of silver against so many ounces of blood.
An aged man, without an enemy in the world, in his own house and in his own bed, is made the victim of a butcherly murder for mere pay. Truly, here is a new lesson for painters and poets. - Whoever shall hereafter draw the portrait of murder, if he will show it as it has been exhibited, where such example was last to have been looked for, in the very bosom of our New England society, let him not give it the grim visage of Moloch, the brow knitted by revenge, the face black with settled hate, and the blood-shot eye emitting livid fires of malice. Let him draw, rather, a decorous, smooth-faced, bloodless demon; a pi.. ture in repose, rather than in action; not so much an example of human nature in its depravity and in its paroxysms of crime, as an infernal being, a fiend, in the ordinary display and development of his character.
The deed was executed with a degree of self-possession and steadiness equal to the wickedness with which it was planned. The circumstances now clearly in evidence spread out the whole scene before us. Deep sleep had fallen on the destined victim, and on all beneath his roof. A healthful old man, to whomi sleep was sweet, the first sound slumbers of the night held him in their soft but strong embrace. The assassin enters, through the window already prepared, into an unoccupied apartment. With noiseless foot he paces the lonely hall, half lighted by the moon; he winds up the ascent of the stairs and reaches the door of the chamber. Of this he moves the lock, by soft and continued pressure, till it turns on its hinges without noise; and he enters, and beholds his victim before him.
The room is uncommonly open to the admission of light. The face of the innocent sleeper is turned from the murderer, and the beams of the moon, resting on the gray locks of his aged temple, show him where to strike. The fatal blow is given! and the victim passes, without a struggle or a motion, from the repose of sleep to the repose of death! It is the assassin's purpose to make sure work; and he plies the dagger, though it is obvious that life has been destroyed by the blow of the bludgeon. He even raises the aged arm, that he may not fail in his aim at the heart, and replaces it again over the wounds of the poniard ! To finish the picture, he explores the wrist for the pulse! He feels for it, and ascertains that it beats no longer! It is accomplished. The deed is done. He retreats, retraces his steps to the window, passes out through it as he came in, and escapes. He has done the murder. No eye has seen him, no ear has heard him. The secret is his own, and it is safe!
Ah! gentlemen, that was a dreadful mistake. Such a secret can be safe nowhere. The whole creation of God has neither nook nor corner where the guilty can bestow it, and say it is safe. Not to speak of that Eye which pierces through all disguises, and beholds everything as in the splendor of noon, such secrets of guilt are never safe from detection, even by men. True it is, generally speaking, that “murder will out.” True it is, that Providence hath so ordained, and doth so govern things, that those who break the great law of Heaven by shedding man's blood seldom succeed in avoiding discovery. Especially in a case exciting so much attention as this, discovery must come, and will come, sooner or later. A thousand eyes turn at once to ex. plore every man, every thing, every circumstance, connected with the time and place; a thousand ears catch every whisper; a