Слике страница

sufficient to say that in all his actions he manifested the deepest solicitude and anxiety for the welfare and happiness of his country and his fellow-men.

He died on the twenty-ninth of June, 1852. Tributes of respect from all distinctions of men were offered to his memory, and the nation mourned their irreparable loss. The following ro marks, which will close this general sketch, were delivered by his colleague, Mr. Underwood, in the Senate of the United States :-"The character of Henry Clay was formed and developed by the influence of our free institutions. His physical and mental organization eminently qualified him to become a great and impressive orator. His person was tall, slender, and commanding. His temperament ardent, fearless, and full of hope. His countenance clear, expressive, and variable-indicating the emotion which predominated at the moment with exact similitude. His voice, cultivated and modulated in harmony with the sentiment he desired to express, fell upon the ear like the melody of enrapturing music. His eye beaming with intelligence, and flashing with coruscations of genius. His gestures and attitudes graceful and natural. These personal advantages won the prepossessions of an audience, even before his intellectual powers began to move his hearers; and when his strong common sense, his profound reasoning, his clear conceptions of his subject in all its bearings, and his striking and beautiful illustrations, united with such personal qualities, were brought to the discussion of any question, his audience was enraptured, convinced, and led by the orator as if enchanted by the lyre of Orpheus.

“No man was ever blessed by bis Creator with faculties of a higher order of excellence than those given to Mr. Clay. In the quickness of his perceptions, and the rapidity with wbich his conclusions were formed, he had few equals, and no superior. He was eminently endowed with a nice discriminating taste for order, symmetry, and beauty. He detected in a moment every thing out of place or deficient in his room, upon his farm, in his own or the dress of others. He was a skilful judge of the form and qualities of his domestic animals, which he delighted to raise on his farm. I could give you instances of the quickness and minuteness of his keen faculty of observation, which never overlooked any thing. A want of neatness and order was offensive to him. He was particular and neat in his handwriting, and his apparel. A slovenly blot, or negligence of any sort, met his condemnation ; while he was so organized that he attended to, and arranged little things to please and gratify his natural love for neatness, order, and beauty, his great intellectual faculties grasped all the subjects of jurisprudence and politics with a facility amounting almost to intuition. As a lawyer, he stood at the head of his profession. As a states man, his stand at the head of the Republican Whig party for nearly half a century, establishes his title to pre-eminence among his illustrious associates.

“Mr. Clay, throughout his public career, was influenced by the loftiest patriotism. Confident in the truth of his convictions, and the purity of his purposes, he was ardent, sometimes impetuous in the pursnit of objects which he believed essential to the general welfare. sympathies embraced all. The African slave, the Creole of Spanish America, the children of renovated classic Greece—all families of men, without respect to color or clime, found in his expanded bosom and comprehensive intellect, a friend of their elevation and amelioration.

“ Bold and determined as Mr. Clay was in all his actions, he was, nevertheless, conciliating. He did not obstinately adhere to things impracticable. If he could not accomplish the best, he contented himself with the nighest approach to it. He has been the great compromiser of those political agitations and opposing opinions which have, in the belief of thousands, at different times, endangered the perpetuity of our Federal Government and Union. He was no less remarkable for his admirable social qualities than for his intellectual abilities. As a companion, he was the delight of his friends, and no man ever had better or truer. They have loved him from the beginning, and loved him to the last. His hospitable mansion at Ashland was always open to their reception. No guest ever thence departed without feeling happier for his visit.”


Mr. Clay delivered this speech in the House Considering the situation in which this counof Representatives of the United States, on the try is now placed, a state of actual war with eighth of January, 1813, on a bill, proposing it may not be useless to take a view of the

one of the most powerful nations on the earth, that twenty thousand men should be added to past, and of the various parties which have at the existing military establishment.

different times appeared in this country, and to

attend to the manner, by which we have been Mr. CHAIRMAN: I was gratified yesterday by driven from a peaceful posture to our present the recommitment of this bill to a committee warlike attitude. Such an inquiry may assist of the whole House, from two considerations; | in guiding us to that result, an honorable peace, one, since it afforded me a slight relaxation from which must be the sincere desire of every friend a most fatiguing situation; * and the other, to America. The course of that opposition, by because it furnished me with an opportunity which the administration of the government of presenting to the committee my sentiments has been unremittingly impeded for the last upon the important topics which have been twelve years, is singular, and, I believe, unexmingled in the debate. I regret, however, that ampled in the history of any country. It has the necessity under which the chairman has been alike the duty and the interest of the been placed of putting the question,t precludes administration to preserve peace. It was their the opportunity, I had wished to enjoy, of duty, because it is necessary to the growth of an rendering more acceptable to the committee infant people, to their genius and to their habits. any thing I might have to offer on the interest | It was their interest, because a change of the ing points, on which it is my duty to touch. condition of the nation, brings along with it a Unprepared, however, as I am to speak on this danger of the loss of the affections of the people. day, of which I am the more sensible from the The administration has not been forgetful of ill state of my health, I will solicit the attention these solemn obligations. No art has been left of the committee for a few moments.

unessayed; no experiment, promising a favoraI was a little astonished, I confess, when I ble result, left untried, to maintain the peaceful found this bill permitted to pass silently through relations of the country. When, some six or the committee of the whole, and not selected, seven years ago, the affairs of the nation assumed until the moment when the question was about a threatening aspect, a partial non-importation to be put for its third reading, as the subject on was adopted. As they grew more alarming, an which gentlemen in the opposition chose to lay embargo was imposed. It would have accombefore the House their views of the interesting plished its purpose, but it was sacrificed upon attitude in which the nation stands. It did the altar of conciliation. Vain and fruitless appear to me, that the loan bill, which will attempt to propitiate! Then came a law of soon come before us, would have afforded a non-intercourse; and a general non-importation much more proper occasion, it being more essen- followed in the train. In the mean time, any tial, as providing the ways and means for the indications of a return to the public law and the prosecution of the war. But the gentlemen had path of justice, on the part of either belligerent, the right of selection, and having exercised it, are seized upon with avidity by the administrano matter how improperly, I am gratified, tion. The arrangement with Mr. Erskine is whatever I may think of the character of some concluded. It is first applauded, and then cenpart of the debate, at the latitude in which, for sured by the opposition. No matter with what once, they have been indulged. I claim only, in unfeigned sincerity, with what real effort adminreturn, of gentlemen on the other side of the istration cultivates peace, the opposition insist House, and of the committee, a like indulgence that it alone is culpable for every breach that is in expressing my sentiments with the same made between the two countries. Because unrestrained freedom. Perhaps, in the course the President thought proper, in accepting the of the remarks which I may feel myself called proffered reparation for the attack on a national upon to make, gentlemen may apprehend that vessel, to intimate that it would have better they assume too harsh an aspect: but I have comported with the justice of the king, (and only now to say, that I shall speak of parties, who does not think so?) to punish the offending measures and things, as they strike my moral officer, the opposition, entering into the royal sense, protesting against the imputation of any feelings, sees in that imaginary insult, abundant intention, on my part, to wound the feelings of cause for rejecting Mr. Erskine's arrangement. any gentlemen.

On another occasion, you cannot have.forgotten

the hypercritical ingenuity which they displayed, * Mr. Clay was, at this time, Speaker of the House of to divest Mr. Jackson's correspondence of a Representatives.

premeditated insult to this country. If gentle+ The Chairman had risen to put the question, which men would only reserve for their own governwould have cut Mr. Clay off from the opportunity of speak- ment half the sensibility, which is indulged for ing, by carrying the bill to the House.

that of Great Britain, they would find much less to condemn. Restriction after restriction has | and ridiculous as the insinuation is, it is propabeen tried; negotiation has been resorted to, gated with so much industry, that there are until further negotiation would have been dis- persons found foolish and credulous enough to graceful. Whilst these peaceful experiments are believe it. You will, no doubt, think it incrediundergoing a trial, what is the conduct of the ble, (but I have nevertheless been told it as a opposition? They are the champions of war; fact,) that an honorable member of this House, the proud, the spirited, the sole repository of now in my eye, recently lost his election by the the nation's honor; the men of exclusive vigor circulation of a silly story in his district, that he and energy. The administration, on the con- was the first cousin of the Emperor Napoleon. trary, is weak, feeble and pusillanimous, —" in- The proof of the charge rested on a statement capable of being kicked into a war. The of facts, which was undoubtedly true. The maxim, “not a cent for tribute, millions for gentleman in question, it was alleged, had mardefence,” is loudly proclaimed. Is the adminis- ried a connexion of the lady of the President of tration for negotiation? The opposition is tired, the United States, who, was the intimate friend sick, disgusted with negotiation. They want to of Thomas Jefferson, late President of the draw the sword and avenge the nation's wrongs. United States, who some years ago, was in the When, however, foreign nations, perhaps em- habit of wearing red French breeches. Now, boldened by the very opposition here made, taking these premises as established, you, Mr. refuse to listen to the amicable appeals, which Chairman, are too good a logician not to see that have been repeated and reiterated by the admin- the conclusion necessarily follows ! istration, to their justice and to their interests; Throughout the period I have been speaking when, in fact, war with one of them has become of, the opposition has been distinguished, amidst identified with our independence and our sov- all its veerings and changes, by another inflexereignty, and to abstain from it was no longer ible feature, the application to Bonaparte of possible, behold the opposition veering round every vile and opprobrious epithet, our language, and becoming the friends of peace and com- copious as it is in terms of vituperation, affords. merce. They tell you of the calamities of war, He has been compared to every hideous monits tragical events, the squandering away of ster and beast, from that mentioned in the Reyour resources, the waste of the public treasure, relations, down to the most insignificant quadand the spilling of innocent blood. Gorgons, ruped. He has been called the scourge of hydras and chimeras dire.” They tell you that mankind, the destroyer of Europe, and the honor is an illusion! Now we see them exbib- great robber, the infidel, the modern Attila, iting the terrific forms of the roaring king of and heaven knows by what other names. the forest: now the meekness and humility of Really, gentlemen remind me of an obscure the lamb! They are for war and no restrictions, lady, in a city not very far off, who also took when the administration is for peace. They are it into her head, in conversation with an acfor peace and restrictions, when the administra- cumplished French gentleman, to talk of the tion is for war. You find them, sir, tacking affairs of Europe. She too spoke of the dewith every gale, displaying the colors of every struction of the balance of power, stormed and party and of all nations, steady only in one raged about the insatiable ambition of the emunalterable purpose, to steer, if possible, into peror; called him the curse of mankind, the the haven of power.

destroyer of Europe. The Frenchman listened During all this tiine, the parasites of opposi- to her with perfect patience, and when she had tion do not fail

, by cunning sarcasm or sly ceased, said to her, with ineffable politeness ; innuendo, to throw out the idea of French Madam, it would give my master, the emperor, influence, which is known to be false, which infinite pain, if he knew how hardly you ought to be met in one manner only, and that thought of him.” Sir, gentlemen appear to me is by the lie direct. The administration of this to forget that they stand on American soil; that country devoted to foreign influence! The they are not in the British House of Commons, administration of this country subservient to but in the chamber of the House of RepresenFrance! Great God! what a charge ! how is tatives of the United States; that we have noit so influenced? By what ligament, on what thing to do with the affairs of Europe, the parbasis, on what possible foundation does it rest? tition of territory and sovereignty there, exIs it similarity of language? No! we speak dif- cept so far as these things affect the interests of ferent tongues, we speak the English language. our own country. Gentlemen transform themOn the resemblance of our laws ? No! the selves into the Burkes, Chathams and Pitts of sources of our jurisprudence spring from another another country, and forgetting from honest and a different country. On commercial inter- zeal the interests of America, engage with Eucourse? No! we have comparatively none with ropean sensibility in the discussion of EuroFrance. Is it from the correspondence in the pean interests. If gentlemen ask me, whether genius of the two governments ? No! here alone I do not view with regret and horror the conis the liberty of man secure from the inexorable centration of such vast power in the hands of despotism, which every where else tramples it Bonaparte—I reply that I do. I regret to see under foot. Where then is the ground of such the emperor of China holding such immense an influence? But, sir, I am insulting you by sway over the fortunes of millions of our spearguing on such a subject. Yet, preposterous cies. I regret to see Great Britain possessing

so uncontrolled a command over all the waters and cherished as the second founder of the libof our globe. If I had the ability to distribute erties of the people, and the period of his adamong the nations of Europe their several por- ministration will be looked back to, as one of tions of power and of sovereignty, I would the happiest and ightest epochs of American say that Holland should be resuscitated, and history-an oasis in the midst of a sandy degiven the weight she enjoyed in the days of sert. But I beg the gentleman's pardon ; he her De Witts. I would confine France within has indeed secured to himself a more imperishher natural boundaries, the Alps, Pyrenees and able fame than I had supposed : I think it was the Rhine, and make her a secondary naval about four years ago that he submitted to the power only. I would abridge the British mar. House of Representatives, an initiative propoitime power, raise Prussia and Austria to their sition for an impeachment of Mr. Jefferson. The original condition, and preserve the integrity House cor descended to consider it. The genof the Empire of Russia. But these are spec- tleman debated it with his usual temper, modulations. I look at the political transactions of eration and urbanity. The House decided upon Europe, with the single exception of their pos- it in the most solemn manner, and, although sible bearing upon us, as I do at the history of the gentleman had somehow obtained a second, other countries, or other times. I do not sur- the final vote stood, one for, and one hundred vey them with half the interest that I do the and seventeen against the proposition! The movements in South America. Our political same historic page that transmitted to posterity relation with them is much less important the virtue and the glory of Henry the Great of than it is supposed to be. I have no fears of France, for their admiration and example, has French or English subjugation. If we are preserved the infamous name of the fanatic asunited, we are too powerful for the mightiest sassin of that excellent monarch. The same nation in Europe, or all Europe combined. If sacred pen that portrayed the sufferings and we are separated and torn asunder, we shall crucifixion of the Saviour of mankind, has rebecome an easy prey to the weakest of them. corded, for universal execration, the name of In the latter dreadful contingency, our country him who was guilty, not of betraying his counwill not be worth preserving.

try, (but a kindred crime,) of betraying his Next to the notice which the opposition has God. found itself called upon to bestow upon the In one respect there is a remarkable difference French Emperor, a distinguished citizen of Vir- between the administration and the opposition; ginia, formerly President of the United States, it is in a sacred regard for personal liberty. has never for a moment failed to receive their When out of power my political friends conkindest and most respectful attention. An demned the surrender of Jonathan Robbins; honorable gentleman from Massachusetts, Mr. they opposed the violation of the freedom of Quincy, of whom I am sorry to say, it becomes the press in the sedition law; they opposed the necessary for me, in the course of my remarks, more insidious attack upon the freedom of the to take some notice, has alluded to him in a person under the imposing garb of an alien remarkable manner. Neither his retirement law. The party now in opposition, then in from public office, his eminent services, nor his power, advocated the sacrifice of the unhappy advanced age, can exempt this patriot from the Robbins, and passed those two laws.* True to coarse assaults of party malevolence. No, sir, our principles, we are now struggling for the in 1801, he snatched from the rude hand of liberty of our seamen against foreign oppression. usurpation the violated constitution of his coun- True to theirs, they oppose a war undertaken try, and that is his crime. He preserved that for this object. They have, indeed, lately afinstrument in form, and substance, and spirit, fected a tender solicitude for the liberties of the a precious inheritance for generations to come, people, and talk of the danger of standing and for this he can never be forgiven. How armies, and the burden of taxes. But it must vain and impotent is party rage directed be evident to you, Mr. Chairman, that they against such a man! He is not more elevated speak in a foreign idiom. Their brogue by his lofty residence upon the summit of his evinces that it is not their vernacular tongue own favorite mountain, than he is lifted by the What! the opposition, who, in 1798 and 1799, serenity of his mind and the consciousness of a could raise a useless army to fight an enemy well spent life, above the malignant passions three thousand miles distant from us, alarmed and bitter feelings of the day. No! his own at the existence of one raised for a known and beloved Monticello is not more moved by the specified object—the attack of the adjoining storms that beat against its sides, than is this provinces of the enemy! What! the gentleman illustrious man, by the howlings of the whole from Massachusetts, who assisted by his vote to British pack set loose from the Essex kennel! raise the army of twenty-five thousand, alarmed When the gentleman to whom I have been com- at the danger of our liberties from this very pelled to allude, shall have mingled his dust with army! that of his abused ancestors; when he shall But, sir, I must speak of another subject, have been consigned to oblivion, or if he lives which I never think of but with feelings of the at all, shall live only in the treasonable annals of a certain junto; the name of Jefferson will * See Marshall's Speech in the Robbins caso, at page 20 be hailed with gratitude, his memory honored | -ante.

deepest awe. The gentleman from Massachu-deploring the existence now of what he terms setts, in imitation of some of his predecessors prejudices against it, but hoping for the arrival of 1799, has entertained us with a picture of of the period when they shall be eradicated. cabinet plots, presidential plots, and all sorts of But, sir, I will quit this unpleasant subject; I plots which have been engendered by the dis- will turn from one, whom no sense of decency eased state of the gentleman's imagination. I or propriety could restrain from soiling the carwish, sir, that another plot of a much more pet on which he treads, to gentlemen who have serious and alarming character—a plot that not forgotten what is due to themselves, to the aims at the dismemberment of our Union, had place in which we are assembled, or to those only the same imaginary existence. But no by whom they are opposed. The gentlemen man who has paid any attention to the tone of from North Carolina, Mr. Pearson, from Concertain prints, and to transactions in a particu- necticut, Mr. Pitkin, and from New York, Mr. lar quarter of the Union, for several years past, Bleecker, have, with their usual decorum, concan doubt the existence of such a plot. It is tended, that the war would not bave been far, very far from my intention to charge the declared, had it not been for the duplicity of opposition with such a design. No, I believe France, in withholding an authentic instruthem generally incapable of it. But I cannot ment, repealing the decrees of Berlin and Milan; say as much for some, who have been unworthily that upon the exhibition of such an instrument associated with them in the quarter of the Union the revocation of the orders in council took to which I have referred. The gentleman can- place; that this main cause of the war, but for not have forgotten his own sentiment, uttered which it would not have been declared, being even on the floor of this House, "peaceably if removed, the administration ought to seek for we can, forcibly if we must,” nearly at the very the restoration of peace; and that upon its sintime Henry's mission to Boston was undertaken. cerely doing so, terms compatible with the The flagitiousness of that embassy has been honor and interest of this country might be attempted to be concealed, by directing the obtained. It is my purpose to examine, first, public attention to the price which, the gentle into the circumstances under which the war man says, was given for the disclosure. As if was declared; secondly, into the causes of conany price could change the atrociousness of the tinuing it; and lastly, into the means which attempt on the part of Great Britain, or could have been taken, or ought to be taken, to proextenuate, in the slightest degree, the offence cure peace; but, sir, I am really so exhausted, of those citizens, who entertained and deliberated that, little as I am in the habit of asking of the upon a proposition so infamous and unnatural! House an indulgence of this kind, I feel I must There is a most remarkable coincidence between trespass on their goodness. some of the things which that man states, and certain events in the quarter alluded to. In Here Mr. Clay sat down. Mr. Newton moved the contingency of war with Great Britain, it that the committee rise, report progress, and will be recollected, that the neutrality and eventual separation of that section of the Union ask leave to sit again, which was done. On the was to be brought about. How, sir, has it next day Mr. Clay proceeded: happened, since the declaration of war, that British officers in Canada have asserted to I am sensible, Mr. Chairman, that some part American officers, that this very neutrality of the debate, to which this bill has given rise, would take place? That they have so asserted has been attended by circumstances much to bé can be established beyond controversy. The regretted, not usual in this House, and of which project is not brought forward openly, with a it is to be hoped, there will be no repetition. direct avowal of the intention. No, the stock The gentleman from Boston, had so absolved of good sense and patriotism in that portion of himself from every rule of decorum and proprithe country is too great to be undisguisedly en- ety, had so outraged all decency, that I have countered. It is assailed fro - the masked bat- found it impossible to suppress the feelings ex. teries of friendship, of peace and commerce on cited on the occasion. His colleague, whom I the one side, and by the groundless imputation of have the honor to follow, Mr. Wheaton, whatopposite propensities on the other. The affec- ever else he might not have proved, in his very tions of the people there are gradually to be learned, ingenious, and original exposition of undermined. The project is suggested or with the powers of this government,-an exposition drawn; the diabolical“ dramatis personæ,” in in which he has sought, where nobody before this criminal tragedy, make their appearance or him has, and nobody after him will look, for a exit, as the audience to whom they address grant of our powers, I mean the preamble to themselves applaud or condemn. I was aston- the constitution,-has clearly shown, to the ished, sir, in reading lately a letter, or pretend- satisfaction of all who heard him, that the power ed letter, published in a prominent print in that of defensive war is conferred. I claim the benequarter, and written, not in the fervor of party fit of a similar principle, in behalf of my polizeal, but coolly and dispassionately, to find tical friends, against the gentleman from Boston. that the writer affected to reason about a sepa- I demand only the exercise of the right of ration, and attempted to demonstrate its advan- repulsion. No one is more anxious than I am tages to the different portions of the Union- to preserve the dignity and the freedom of de

« ПретходнаНастави »